Monday, June 28, 2010

Do We Really Need Nutritional Supplements?



There is no simple answer to this question. The common belief is that people who are healthy, exercise regularly, eat nutritious food, do not smoke or abuse alcohol, do not need any supplementation. It is believed that their daily nutritional needs are met and there is no need for additional supplementation. Another line of thought, however, advocates the need of supplementation independently of the lifestyle and nutritional preferences. Some of the writers and researches, especially in the field of gerontology and aging, as well as the specialists in orthomolecular medicine* take nutritional supplementation one step further. They suggest that so called aggressive supplementation combined with healthy diet is the only way to deliver optimal amounts of nutrients. The doses of nutrients often exceed the generally accepted daily allowances and supplementation goes beyond the regular multivitamin and mineral formulas.

Are we malnourished?

In order to function optimally we need nutrients that constitute the building blocks of our bodies and sustain all the processes that keep us alive. A well balanced diet consisting of nutritious foods is the most important way to deliver all the nutrients that we require to stay healthy and fit. Unfortunately, many people do not receive the minimum dietary requirement with the foods they consume on daily basis. They become malnourished. Long-term nutritional deficiencies have adverse consequences on their health and may be the cause of serious chronic ailments.

There are many reasons why the food we consume daily may not provide us with all the nutrients we need to stay healthy and energetic. An average person does not receive the suggested RDA amount of nutrients from food. Nutritional value of fruit and vegetable depends on the soil on which they grow. Due to commercial farming practices the soil is often depleted of its mineral content. Harvest, transportation, and food processing may be responsible for some loss of nutrients as well. Very often the produce is harvested in an unripe state and transported over long distances. Such practices are responsible for the diminished nutrient content in our produce. Nutritional value of commercially raised animals, commercially produced eggs and dairy differs from the values that were measured only fifty years ago, but our nutritional needs may have increased over the years due to pollution and the stressful lifestyles we are leading.

What are nutritional supplements?

Nutritional supplements are preparations intended to deliver nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. They can come in form of tablets, capsules, powder, or in a liquid form and are to be ingested. They are meant to replenish what is missing in one's diet and are either considered to be foods or drugs depending on the regulations of a particular country. The dosage of nutrients vary from preparation to preparation and while some offer a minimum necessary for the overall well being, other offer mega-doses that exceed the daily RDA allowance. There are also supplements containing nutrients for which there is no established daily dose.

What is RDA?

RDA or Recommended Dietary Allowance is the amount of certain nutrients that a healthy individual should consume daily in order to maintain good health and decrease the risk of developing chronic disease. There are allowances for vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and fiber. The individual need for nutrients may vary greatly depending on age, gender, personal disease history, and lifestyle factors such as veganism, medication, alcoholism, drug abuse, or smoking.

How to choose the right nutritional supplement?

Choosing a nutritional supplement may be very difficult unless we know what our needs and deficiencies are. Most of the commonly available and inexpensive nutritional supplements contain synthetically manufactured nutrients. They contain fillers and artificial coloring and may be full of allergens. The more expensive, state of the art nutritional supplements are made of extracts derived from plants and provide nutrients in higher concentrations. Nutrients that come together with their co-factors are more bio-available and effective. Such supplements are formulated for maximum absorption and use the pharmaceutical grade active nutritional ingredients. They do not contain allergens such as lactose, soy, yeast, or gluten, and are free of toxic contaminants.

The most commonly used caking agents, fillers, or flow agents such as magnesium stearate often interfere with the nutrient absorption making the low-dose supplements inefficient if not completely useless. Magnesium stearate, for instance, not only decreases absorption of nutrients, it may also be toxic and is suspected of suppressing the immune system. However, finding nutritional supplements that are free of magnesium stearate is not very easy as even the best ones on the market contain this agent which is made from hydrogenated cottonseed oil and commonly used as a flow agent to facilitate the manufacturing process.

If you decide to use a nutritional supplements, it is often best to consult a certified health care professional. If you have an existing medical condition or a medical history, it may be necessary to perform blood tests in order to find out your deficiencies or contra-indications. Take particular care when purchasing your supplement that you know and understand any added ingredient and its toxicity or allergenic potential. You do not want to take anything that may cause adverse reactions. Moreover, it is important to know whether your supplement interacts with any medication you are currently taking.

Conclusion

Supplements are very useful and necessary to alleviate any nutritional deficiencies, but they should never be taken in place of proper nutrition. Active lifestyle and healthy eating habits are absolutely necessary for optimal health. But unless we grow, harvest, and prepare our food ourselves, we must be aware that our nutritional needs may not be met on daily basis. High quality supplements may have be taken additionally to enhance our well being and deliver what is missing on our plates. The natural aging process is also responsible for some nutrient deficiencies. As we age, we may not be able to metabolize and absorb all the nutrients that we need. Supplementation can help us maintain the equilibrium and slow down the degenerative processes. As Dr. Linus Pauling postulated in 1960, "Optimum nutrition and correct nutritional supplementation is the medicine of tomorrow." Today this statement is more relevant than ever.

By Dominique Allmon

*Orthomolecular medicine is a complementary therapy form that seeks to prevent or treat diseases with high doses of nutrients that are either taken as dietary supplements or in form of food. The phrase was coined by Dr. Linus Pauling 

*This information is for educational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or cure a disease. Please, consult your health care provider before commencing any supplementation as herbs and vitamins may interfere with prescription drugs.

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Do We Really Need Nutritional Supplements? by Dominique Allmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

      

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


Saint-Ex 29 June 1900—31 July 1944

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was a French writer and aviator. He is best remembered for his novella The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince), and for his books about aviation adventures, including Night Flight and Wind, Sand and Stars. He was a successful commercial pilot before World War II, joining the Armée de l'Air (French Air Force) on the outbreak of war, flying reconnaissance missions until the armistice with Germany. Following a spell of writing in the United States, he joined the Free French Forces. He disappeared on a reconnaissance flight over the Mediterranean in July 1944. 

“The friend within the man is that part of him which belongs to you and opens to you a door which never, perhaps, is opened to another. Such a friend is true, and all he says is true; and he loves you even if he hates you in other mansions of his heart.” -  Antoine de Saint-Exupéry from "The Wisdom of the Sands" translated from French by Stuart Gilbert
 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Constipation - The Subject No One Really Wants To Talk About



Five natural constipation remedies.

Until recently, constipation was not taken into cognizance in the corporate world. Neither was its effects really looked into. However, recent surveys and estimates have shown that constipation is singularly responsible for the loss of over $2billion annually.

As a result, it has become in fact very important to address the issue and its treatments. While some of us are very familiar with the use of enemas or laxatives, we are also finding that these have side effects and as a result, should be avoided as much as possible. For instance, it has been proven than laxatives are not only addictive, they make the individual dependent on them for bowel movements. That's the reason some people are looking for alternative constipation remedies which do not become addictive and most importantly, not leave chemical residues in the body which can be harmful in the long term.

If you have ever had constipation, you'll agree with me that constipation is not only uncomfortable, it is embarrassing. When an individual is constipating, he is not in any way comfortable at all. Symptoms such as bloated abdomen, gas, headache, et.c accompany the onset of constipation.The causes of constipation are varied. But chief among them are unhealthy eating - insufficient consumption of high fiber content foods - lack of exercise, minimal fluid intake and changes in both life and environment such as changes in locations or traveling and pregnancy. Other contributing factors are diseases, and colon and rectum troubles.

So what natural constipation remedies act fast to provide relieve? 

Boysenberry - The juice of this fruit is capable of functioning as a gentle laxative. It is to be used in the case of mild constipation not chronic ones. 

Cantaloupe - is a very great fruit and is adequate for helping to relieve constipation.  Its high fiber content is what actually makes it very useful to those who have constipation. It is also a rich source of both Vitamins A and C and lots of minerals. 

Flax seed oil - has been proven time and again to be an effective constipation remedy. All you need for maximum results is to take 1-2 tablespoonfuls with lots of water immediately after lunch or dinner.

Elderflower - is also very effective. All you need is an infusion of it in water as many times as it is needed daily.

Epsom Salts - is also considered to be another good remedy for constipation. To use it as a constipation remedy, mix one teaspoonful in half glass of water jut before bed. Please not that it is bitter so the taste does not hit you unawares. 

For more information please visit Bowtrol website

    

Quote of the Day

 
Dreaming out loud by Jake Baddeley 2009

All men dream but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity. But the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes to make it possible. - T. E. Lawrence

Image credit here

The Danger to America is Not Barack Obama

 
 La Nave dei Pazzi or The Ship of Fools by Mario Ortolani

The below quote is all over the Internet. The author is unknown but it was reportedly translated into English from an article appearing in the Czech Republic on 28 April 2010. The quote makes total sense when you consider that Obama came out of nowhere, with virtually no experience in anything, with a history of continuous radical, anti-American associations, a 20-year association with and allegiance to an anti-American, anti-Israel racist pastor, a highly questionable Constitutional eligibility, a hidden past that he refuses to make public, a Muslim childhood and on at least one occasion still an admitted Muslim, with a wife who said that the success of her husband's campaign had marked the first time in her adult life that she had felt pride in America, and who is now attempting to radically “change” our nation to socialism or Marxism. All the foregoing was ignored by our ideological, lapdog mainstream media. Sadly, this eloquent quote speaks a profound truth:

”The danger to America is not Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the Presidency. It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a electorate willing to have such a man for their president. The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a symptom of what ails America . Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince. 
 
The Republic can survive a Barack Obama, who is, after all, merely a fool. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their president.”



Article courtesy of DontAgree.com

Can Chromium Help Balance Cholesterol?



Chromium as a Cholesterol Supplement 

Chromium is an essential trace mineral first discovered in 1955. Although our bodies contain only a few milligrams, even this tiny amount is critical for regulating insulin and blood sugar levels, as well as activating enzymes essential for energy production. We get chromium through food, primarily yeast, grains, nuts, prunes, potatoes, and seafood. But we don't get enough overall. Many Americans are deficient in chromium. One reason is that diets high in refined sugar leach chromium right out of us. Recent studies find that supplementing with chromium may not only lower cholesterol but also help stabilize blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. Thus, it may be particularly beneficial to people with metabolic syndrome or diabetes. 

What does the research show? 

In one small study of 28 people, those taking 200 micrograms of chromium daily for 42 days had significant decreases in both total cholesterol and LDL, decreases that didn't occur when they took a placebo. At least eight other studies have found that chromium supplementation improved cholesterol. And numerous studies found supplementing with at least 400 micrograms of chromium improved fasting glucose levels, a sign of improved insulin sensitivity. Be aware that chromium may take several weeks or even months to yield results. 

Who should take it? 

People with metabolic syndrome or diabetes, as well as anyone susceptible to chromium deficiency including athletes, the elderly, and people who follow diets high in refined sugar. 

Recommended dose

200 to 400 micrograms a day in divided doses for people with insulin resistance. 400 to 1,000 micrograms a day in divided doses for people with diabetes. For cholesterol maintenance 200 micrograms daily should be sufficient. 

Warnings and contraindications.

If you have diabetes, check with your doctor. Taking chromium may alter your requirements for insulin or other diabetes medication. 



For more information please click here

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Resveratrol and Weight Loss

 

Resveratrol and Weight Loss - A Good Pairing? 

The golden rule in weight loss is pretty simple: take in fewer calories than you expend in exercise. However, as any dieter will tell you, it’s far from easy. Americans spend billions of dollars a year on weight loss supplements, exercise programs and other diet aids - and still we can’t seem to win the battle of the bulge - even when we get desperate enough to try risky surgery or fad diets.

Recently a new product has come to light that may help people trying to lose weight stay on the healthy end of the spectrum: Resveratrol Select, which is unlike many diet supplements in that it uses a combination of natural and herbal ingredients designed to help the body stay healthy while losing weight. How? By mimicking certain aspects of the Mediterranean diet.

Studies have shown that part of America’s war with weight lies in the uniquely modern American combination of stressful lifestyle and fast-food consumption, and that the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle seem to be more conducive to healthier weight levels and longevity. In fact, much as been made on the news in recent months of the purported “French Paradox,” (how the French eat a high-fat diet, enjoy rich desserts, drink wine and still have better cardiovascular health than the rest of us).

One of the biggest differences between the American and French diet seems to be the wine consumption, and red wine (a staple on most Mediterranean tables) contains one of nature’s most powerful antioxidants, resveratrol, which is a key ingredient in Resveratrol Select. In addition to wine, resveratrol is also found in grape skins, blueberries, cranberries and other plants, and recent animal and in vitro studies indicate that it can have a positive effect on helping to maintain healthy cholesterol levels, supporting insulin health and optimizing metabolic and immune pathways that protect cells and improve mitochondrial function.

One capsule of Resveratrol Select includes as much resveratrol as 200 glasses of wine - without the added calories that alcohol can add to the waistline. But consuming resveratrol alone isn’t enough to help with weight loss - so the manufacturers of Resveratrol Select also added a different type of antioxidant, Green Tea Extract (EGCG), which could make a big difference.

Over time, green tea consumption helps increase metabolism, burn fat and reduce fat storage due to its caffeine and L-theanin content, which can be pivotal in helping to maintain energy for exercise. Resveratrol Select combines these two powerful antioxidants with yet another energy boosting ingredient, Chromium, a niacin-based mineral that plays an important role in how the body uses insulin to burn sugars, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins for energy.

Although relatively new on the market, Resveratrol Select seems to be making a big splash, and many people are taking advantage of the free trial offer to see how well the product works for them. The trial offer also includes two bonus tools to help with weight loss: an e-book with over 70 weight loss tips, and a weight loss visualization audio. Of course, consuming fewer calories while burning more is the most efficient form of weight loss, and it’s always a good idea to inform your doctor before taking a weight loss supplement, but this new combination herbal supplement is worth a look for those concerned about maintaining good health while losing weight.


Article source Resveratrol Select Website


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Quote of the Day

 
Sepia Morning by Brandy Bentz-Jackson

Rest is not idleness,
and to lie sometimes on the grass
under trees on a summer's day,
listening to the murmur of the water,
or watching the clouds float across the sky
is by no means a waste of time.

John Lubbuck, 1834-1913
English banker and biologist

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Give up!

 

Give up because at some point, hanging in there just makes you look like an even bigger loser. - Author anonymous but greatly appreciated.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Science Behind Pheromones

 

Today, there are many pheromones products in the market, and you most probably wonder what these products, such as the Nexus Pheromones, are for.

The word pheromone originates from the Greek words "pherein" (to transfer) and "hormon" (to stimulate). Coined by experts Adolf Butenandt and Peter Karlson in 1959, this term describes the chemical signals among living organisms that elicit response from the physiology or behavior of other members. Pheromones are chemical substances generated by one living organism and are transmitted to other organisms that belong in one species. Pheromones are substances that usually ignite the sexual urge among animals or people.

But for animals, pheromones are commonly used for communication. There are different pheromone types, with each type belonging to two categories of usage: as territory markers or as attraction or aggression starters. The epideictic pheromones, territorial pheromones, and trail pheromones belong to the first category. The epideictic pheromones are usually seen in insects. Commonly, female insects leave substances around the vicinity where they clutch their eggs so that other insects will automatically find another place. This pheromone type is similar with the territorial pheromones that animals use to label the scope of their territories. For example, dogs use urine to mark their territories. Lastly, the trail pheromones are used by social insects like ants, which leave chemical elements on paths they tread on so they can go back to their nests correctly. Ants also use their pheromones to guide other members to the right path, usually toward a source of food.

The second category includes the aggregation pheromones, alarm pheromones, primer pheromones, and sex pheromones. The primer pheromones are the most uncommon among the four types while the aggregation pheromones are substances that attract both male and female organisms. The latter pheromones are unusual because the typical pheromones attract specific members of the community only; for instance, if you're a man, you'll normally attract women. Meanwhile, there are species that, when attacked, release a substance that triggers aggression in other members of the community of that species - a substance called alarm pheromone. But other than aggression, there are also pheromones that lure mates for breeding that are called sex pheromones. Generally, a male insect can sense or detect the pheromones created by a female insect even if he is 10 kilometers away from her.

Proven that these classifications of pheromones are natural tools used by animals for communication, scientists also believe that pheromones also work in human beings. The human vomeronasal organ (VNO), a tiny organ situated in the human's nasal cavity, serves as the body's receptor of such substances. Since the vomeronasal organ is linked to the vessels of the brain, it sends the signals that it receives from the pheromones to the human brain. Then, the brain dictates the response of the body, which becomes evident in the man's behavior.

In connection to the statement above, studies show that human beings use the sense of smell to select their mates. In fact, Swedish experts have proven that, with the use of the latest brain imaging device, both homosexual males and heterosexual females react in a common manner when they are sexually aroused by male odors. Another study has found out that through the use of odor, pheromones have the ability to synchronize the menstrual cycles of different women. With pheromones, the female's ovulation can either shorten or lengthen depending on the signal that the female receives. Scientists call this process McClintock effect.

To further prove that pheromones are natural parts of human beings or their everyday lives, scientists have documented their findings using medical journals including Nature, The Scientist, and Microscopy-UK and Micscape Magazine as well as reports such as Report from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Presentation to International Society for Human Ethology, Simon Fraser University. Due to the unbelievable functions of pheromones, even TV and print media have covered different scientific facts about these body substances. Dateline NBC, 20/20, ABC News, CNN, NY Times, Washington Post, and Time Magazine are examples of those media.

Consequently, various companies have produced pheromone products like Nexus Pheromones to help people find partners. These products are clinically proven formulations that attract males and females. Pheromone products are created specifically for men to allow them to communicate silently to women, using only their odors. Some males use these products by blending them with their aftershaves. The Nexus Pheromones, for example, can be mixed by men in their aftershaves so that women will be able to smell their scents when they have a chance to get close to women. With these pheromone products, men do not need to take muscle pills or waste their sweat in the gym anymore just to improve their likeability; all they need is a simple scent produced by pheromones products.

However, men must not rely on pheromones products alone to attract women. They should also consider the importance of hygiene and appearance. For instance, a man uses Nexus Pheromones but he does not shower everyday, does not brush his teeth, and dresses up like a filthy street beggar. Do you think this kind of look will attract women? Certainly not, because women prefer both good-smelling and good-looking men. Simply put, pheromones products can help men lure women, but the end result also depends on the man's presentation of himself.
 
The aforementioned scientific discoveries and explanations may seem to be so simple that a lot of people already believe in the 'mysterious' works of pheromones to the body, specifically factors that influence the attraction between human beings. Indeed, with the use of vomeronasal organs and pheromones, people often find themselves attracted to someone they do not even know. Probably, this is the reason for that thing called "chemistry," but whatever label people attach to this kind of attraction, one thing is for sure: the effect that pheromones bring is not mere speculation but a proven fact.

To find out more about the product please click ♥ here

Improve Your Health with Medicinal Mushrooms



Health benefits of medicinal mushrooms and fungi

For thousands of years mushrooms have been valued in different cultures for their medicinal and psychedelic properties. They were used by shamans and medicine men and found a way to highly organized medical systems such as the Traditional Chinese Medicine. The ancient Chinese believed that mushrooms were longevity tonics and used them to strengthen the body and prevent disease. Modern research shows that mushrooms, especially the species known in China and Japan, contain active compounds which are able to enhance the immune system and fight tumors in the body. 

Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of certain fungi, mostly of the order Agaricales. More than 14,000 different types of mushrooms have been identified around the world. It is considered that around 3,000 are edible. About 700 different mushrooms have medicinal properties and about twice as many are highly poisonous. Some mushrooms contain hallucinogens such as psilocybin and other psychoactive tryptamins. They were used by shamans in mystical ceremonies. 

Edible mushrooms are source of fiber, protein, B vitamins, vitamin D, and minerals, especially copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and selenium. Mineral content often varies depending on the soil on which the mushroom grows. Mushrooms are rich in polysaccharides, especially the immune system enhancing beta glucans. They consist mostly of water - between 80 and 90 per cent, and are used in many cuisines for their nutritional value, texture, and aroma.

Ever since Alexander Fleming isolated penicillin from the fungus Penicillium chrysogenum 1924, laboratories all over the world are researching medicinal properties of mushrooms and fungi. In 1976 the first statin drug was isolated from Penicillium citrinum by a Japanese scientist, Dr. Akira Endo. Properties attributed to mushrooms by ancient cultures and folk medicine are being tested and confirmed in laboratory setting. Researchers in China and Japan are testing mushroom species that are traditionally used in cooking and as medicine in these countries. Thanks to the ongoing research, mushrooms find application in the treatment of certain cancers as well as in the treatment of a weak immune system as well as auto-immune diseases. Some of the species are known to regulate blood sugar.

Medicinal mushrooms
  • Agaricus blazei known as Murill mushroom, almond mushroom, or Himematsutake originates in Brazil and contains very high levels of beta glucans. It enhances the immune system by stimulating macrophages and the NK cells among others. Because of its strong anti-tumor activity, it is used in alternative and complementary cancer therapies in certain cancers. It also has the ability to regulate the blood sugar as it boosts the levels of adiponectin in the body. Moreover, it regulates the levels of cholesterol in the blood. It is also successfully used to cure some types of hepatitis.
  • Agaricus bisphorus or the common Champignon mushroom and the Portobello mushroom contain compound that inhibits activity of the enzyme aromatase. Women who consumed as little as 10 grams of fresh mushrooms a day had decreased incidence of breast cancer. Portobello mushroom is a great vegetable source of the CLA - Conjugated Linoleic Acid, which is an antioxidant with strong anti-cancer properties.
  • Auricularia polytricha or Auricularia auricula-judaealso known as Mu Er or the Judas' ear used in Chinese cuisine has a remarkable blood thinning properties. Already a small amount can prevent blood platelets from sticking together. This anti-coagulant ability can help prevent heart disease and stroke. Mu er also has the ability to strengthen the immune system and to regulate the blood lipids levels.
  • Boletus badius also known as Bay bolete is an edible mushroom rich in antioxidants. Studies have shown that polysaccharides extracted from the mycelial culture of this mushroom have extraordinary capacity to inhibit the growth of sarcoma 180. Boletus badius contains substantial amounts of theanine normally found only in Camelia sinensis or tea plant. Theanine has an anti-anxiety effect. It promotes relaxation and serenity. It also shows tumor inhibiting properties.
  • Coprinus comatus known as the shaggy ink cap or shaggy mane was valued for its black pigment that was used in the past as an ink. In the Traditional Chinese Medicine it is used to treat diabetes, circulatory disease, digestive disorders, and piles. It has a very high lectin activity, contains the antioxidant ergothionein, and shows strong anti-tumor activity in hormone dependent tumors. It helps to regulate glucose levels.
  • Cordyceps sinensis or Caterpillar fungus is a parasitic fungus that acquires nutrients for its growth from several species of caterpillars. It is found at a high altitude in China, Tibet, and Nepal. It has been used for centuries in the Traditional Chinese Medicine as well as in the Tibetan medicine. It is an adaptogen that increases energy levels, endurance and stamina. In the Orient it was used to improve the kidney and lung functions, and was considered to have rejuvenating properties. Research shows that it balances the blood sugar levels and may also be able to protect liver from damage. Like many other medicinal mushrooms, cordyceps shows strong anti-oxidative and anti-carcinogenic activity. Scientists isolated a compund called manno-glucan that demonstrates very strong anti-tumor activity.
  • Flammulina velutipes also known as Enoki or Enokitake used in Japanese cooking, contains an antioxidant called ergothioneine that is protecting the body from the hydroxyl radicals and the hypochlorous acid. Enoki also contains a compound called flammulin that has a very strong anti-tumor activity. The mushroom also has an immune system modulating properties.
  • Fomitopsis officinalis also known as Agarikon is one of the largest and longest living mushrooms in the world. In ancient Greece it was used to cure tuberculosis. This mushroom is now extinct in Europe where it was known as the elixir of long life, but it can be found in North America. Unfortunately it isn't well researched yet, but it has been used to cure lung and respiratory diseases. Agarikon is believed to enhance the female libido. It has strong anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties and is currently tested by the US Army scientists.
  • Ganoderma lucidum also known as Ling Zhi or Reish has been used in Asia for thousands of years. It is a powerful immune system modulator and helps to heal allergies and autoimmune diseases. It shows a very strong anti-tumor activity and is successfully used in alternative and complementary cancer therapies. It promotes cardiovascular health and regulates blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels. It reduces inflammation in the body and has very strong anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties. It protects the liver and the urinary tract. It is an adaptogen that helps to relieve fatigue, build up stamina and resistance to stress.
  • Grifola frondosa or Maitake is one of the most researched medicinal mushrooms. It is antiviral and supports the immune system and a healthy blood pressure. Thanks to the compound called alpha-glucosidase inhibitor it is able to normalize the blood sugar levels and enhance insulin sensitivity. It may therefore be very useful for people with diabetes and people who struggle to lose their weight. It also shows a tumor inhibiting activity in the lung, breast, and liver cancers.
  • Hericium erinaceus also known as Hou Tou Gu, Lion's Mane, or Yamabushitake has been used in China to successfully treat gastrointestinal problems. It shows a strong immune modulating activity and it also regulates the blood sugar levels. It contains compounds called erinacines known to stimulate the growth of nerve cells. The mushroom is used to promote cognitive health. Some of the compounds found in this mushroom have a very strong antioxidant activity. Phytosterols in this mushroom are able to regulate lipid levels in the blood. This mushroom also shows a strong antibacterial activity and is successfully used to heal the Helicobacter pylori infection. It enhances the proliferation of T- and B-lymphocytes in the body. It also shows strong anti-tumor activity.
  • Inonotus obliquus known as Chaga or Kabanoanatake grows in the North on birch, beech, and alder trees with the best specimens coming from the cold climate of Siberia. The medicinal chaga is harvested from birch trees. It is used to stimulate the immune system and improve metabolism. It stimulates the central nervous system as well as the cardiovascular and the endocrine systems. It helps with respiration and digestion. It regulates blood sugar and lowers blood pressure. Chaga contains large amounts of the antioxidant SOD enzyme. It is also rich in betulinic acid which has very strong anti-cancerogenic properties. It inhibits the growth of tumors and slows down the development of metastases in the body.
  • Lentinula edodes or Shiitake is an edible mushroom that contains all the eight essential amino acids. It contains a polysaccharide called lentinan with a very strong anti-viral and immune system stimulating properties. Research shows that lentinan kills a very broad spectrum of viruses and is stronger than the powerful prescription antiviral drug amantadine hydrochloride. Shiitake stimulates the immune system to produce more interferon which the body uses to fight viruses and cancer. It also contains eritadenine - a compound known to substantially reduce blood cholesterol. Further, it has a blood thinning properties.
  • Phellinus linteus called song gen in Chinese or meshimakobu in Japanese, is widely used in China, Korea and Japan and is often drunk as an infusion. It shows a very strong anti-tumor activity. It inhibits the proliferation of lung, prostate, and the skin cancer cells. The latest research shows that this mushroom can also prevent the growth of breast cancer. A compound called Interfungin A shows the capacity to inhibit the protein glycation process.
  • Pleurotus ostreatus or the Oyster mushroom has the ability to reduce the levels of cholesterol in the blood and is the source of statin drug Lovastatin. Moreover, it shows an anti-cancer activity, especially on the cells of colon cancer.
  • Trametes versicolor known as Turkey tail, Yun Zhi, or Kawaratake is the mushroom with the best researched anti-cancer properties. it is a source of the anti-cancer drug called Kresin or PSK (Polysaccharide-K). Kresin is used in conjunction with chemotherapy in patients with the breast, stomach, lung, and colorectal cancers increasing the survival rate.
There are many more species of mushrooms with medicinal properties. The ongoing research is discovering new compounds that can be used to enhance the immune system, regulate blood sugar and treat diabetes, prevent cancer, inhibit the growth and destroy existing tumors. Mycotherapy has a long tradition in Asia and it has a promising future as a branch of the alternative medicine in the West as well. Mushrooms were used as medicine in ancient Greece and in mycophile cultures of Eastern Europe. New scientific research only confirms the intuitive uses of mushrooms in this region.

Some of the medicinal mushrooms can be used in daily cooking. Others are consumed in form of capsules, extracts, tinctures, or infusions. Regular consumption of fresh mushrooms and mushroom supplements will help maintain and enhance the immune function and prevent many diseases, including cancer. It is important to purchase supplements of the highest purity and concentration. 

By Dominique Allmon

*This article was written for educational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or treat any disease. Please, contact your health care provider before commencing supplementation with mushroom supplements. Most mushrooms can safely be added to your daily cooking recipes.

Creative Commons License
Improve Your Health with Medicinal Mushrooms by Dominique Allmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Size Matters: The Key to Cosmic Perspective


Cosmic Uroborous

The ancient Egyptian god Nun, the great unknowable and indescribable source of all the other gods, was sometimes portrayed associated with a serpent or even as a serpent. 

There is something about the image of a serpent that has led many cultures to associate it symbolically with the creation of the world and the unity of all things, especially when the serpent is represented as swallowing its own tail. In ordinary speech the word “serpent” is sometimes used interchangeably with “snake,” but a snake is an animal, while a serpent is the symbolic, mythic, sometimes dreamlike representation of that animal. Snakes do not actually swallow their tails, but serpents can do anything humans can imagine. Adapting an idea of Sheldon Glashow, 1979 Nobel laureate in physics, we turn to the multi-thousand year-old symbol of the serpent swallowing its tail and give it a modern interpretation. “Uroboros” is the ancient Greek word for a serpent swallowing its tail. We will call the symbol pictured above the “Cosmic Uroboros.” The tip of the cosmic serpent’s tail represents the smallest possible size scale, the Planck length, and its head represents the largest size scale, the size of the cosmic horizon.

The Cosmic Uroboros represents the universe as a continuity of vastly different size scales. As the image above shows, the diameter of the earth is about two orders of magnitude (10-2) smaller than that of the sun. About sixty orders of magnitude separate the very smallest from the very largest size. Traveling clockwise around the serpent from head to tail, we move from the maximum scale we can see, the size of the cosmic horizon (10-28 cm), down to that of a supercluster of galaxies, down to a single galaxy, to the distance from Earth to the Great Nebula in Orion, to the solar system, to the sun, the earth, a mountain, humans, an ant, a single-celled creature such as the E. coli bacterium, a strand of DNA, an atom, a nucleus, the scale of the weak interactions (carried by the W and Z particles), and approaching the tail the extremely small size scales on which physicists hope to find massive dark matter (DM) particles, and on even smaller scales a Grand Unified Theory (GUT) . The tip of the tail represents the smallest possible scale, the Planck length.  Human beings are just about at the center.

Let’s get oriented on the Cosmic Uroboros.  Most of the time we humans are conscious only of things from about the size of ants to the size of mountains. This range of sizes corresponds to the bottom of the Cosmic Uroboros – if it were a clockface, it would fall approximately between 5 o’clock and 6:30, just about the middle. This is humanity’s native region of the universe, our true homeland.  This is the “reality” in which common sense works and normal physical intuition is reliable. It’s not a geographical location: it’s a point of view. We will name this range of size scales “Midgard,” a name for Earth borrowed from the Norse creation myth, the Edda, in which the world of human beings was seen as midway between the land of the giants and the land of the gods. For much the same reason, the ancient Romans named their sea the Mediterranean, literally “middle of the earth.”  We have chosen the name Midgard for our human-scale homeland in the modern universe not because it is between heaven and hell or any other spiritual dualities, but because it is midway between the largest and smallest sizes. This turns out to be the only size that conscious beings like us could be.

Smaller creatures would not have enough atoms to be sufficiently complex, while larger ones would suffer from slow communication – which would mean that they would effectively be communities rather than individuals, like groups of communicating people, or supercomputers made up of many smaller processors.

Different physical forces control events on different size scales. Electrical and magnetic (electromagnetic) forces control what happens from atoms up to mountains, even though gravity also plays a role.  But around the size scale of mountains, gravity starts to gain the upper hand.  The maximum size of mountains is determined by a competition between electromagnetism and gravity. The electromagnetic force is the glue of the chemical bonds that hold together the atoms that mountains are made of, and the strength of the glue is the same everywhere, regardless of the size of the planet.  But the strength of the gravitational force grows with the increasing mass of the planet or of the mountain.  When the mountain becomes big enough, its gravity overcomes the electromagnetic forces that hold mountains together, and the roots of the mountain flow or break, causing earthquakes. The smaller the mass of the planet, the weaker the gravity pulling the mountain down.  Consequently, mountains can be much higher on smaller planets like Mars than they are on Earth. Since the strength of gravity continues to grow with mass, once we reach that part of the Cosmic Uroboros where gravity controls, all larger scales are also controlled by it and all other forces become less important.

Moving counterclockwise from Midgard up into the larger size scales means adjusting our conscious focus, zooming out to encompass vaster regions, where gravity has counteracted the headlong expansion of the universe by collecting matter in those regions that in the early universe happened to be slightly denser than average. Gravity eventually stopped the cosmic expansion in those regions, and gravity has ever afterward shaped and held everything in the region together in a beautiful, dynamic, yet stable structure – a galaxy, in which stars and planets formed and evolution has had time to work its wonders. The largest structures astronomers see are the great sheets of galaxies known as superclusters. In the old Newtonian view, there was no known object larger than a star, and stars were randomly distributed forever. But in the new cosmology not only are there galaxies, each containing hundreds of billions of stars, but there are superclusters of tens of thousands of galaxies, which astronomers have been mapping since the mid 1980's. That, however, appears to be the end of the line. We see no structures larger than superclusters. On scales much bigger than superclusters, the universe becomes increasingly smooth. If each supercluster were a dot, the visible universe would look much the way Newton expected. He was right about the universe being essentially uniform, but on the wrong scale: he thought the stars were scattered more or less evenly, but instead it’s the superclusters.

Moving clockwise now on the Cosmic Uroboros, zooming way inward past Midgard to the very small, we reach the size scales of subatomic particles.  This is the region controlled by what are called the strong and weak interactions. These forces are active only on scales smaller than atoms. Gravity is of no importance at all on these scales. In fact, gravity’s power fades out at the small end of Midgard. It can’t hurt a mouse. You can drop a mouse down a thousand-yard mine shaft and at the bottom, as long as the ground is soft, it will walk away. Gravity plays virtually no role in the life of bacteria, which are at about 7 o’clock on the Cosmic Uroboros. From there until about 12 o’clock, gravity is completely irrelevant.

But then a strange thing happens. As we continue along the Cosmic Uroboros to the very tip of the tail, gravity becomes extremely powerful again. The reason is that gravity’s strength increases as objects get closer to each other, and at the tip of the tail distances between particles are almost unimaginably small. The Cosmic Serpent swallowing its tail represents the possibility that gravity links the largest and the smallest sizes and thereby unifies the universe. This actually happens in superstring theory, a mathematically beautiful idea which is our best hope for a theory that could unify quantum theory and relativity. In string theory, sizes smaller than the Planck length get remapped into sizes larger than the Planck length.

The latest breakthrough in particle physics was the realization in the 1960s and 1970s that the strong and weak forces are closely related to the electromagnetic force. In the very successful “standard model” of particle physics based on this, elementary particles are treated as if they are points with certain properties. But the standard model cannot be the final word on the subject, since it cannot explain why, for example, electrons and other elementary particles have the masses and other properties that they do. So physicists have been trying for several decades to go beyond the standard model.

The very speculative but promising physics of string theory suggests that not just electrons but all elementary particles might just be the ways a single kind of tiny looped string can vibrate, and in that case an electron would be just a way a string vibrates. An identical string vibrating in a different way would be a different particle. Just as only certain shapes of electron clouds are allowed in atoms, only certain sorts of vibration (and thus of particles) are possible.  An electron is a special sort of vibration: it is the lowest mass vibration having the property of electric charge.  String theory has striking mathematical elegance: it might even be true, and it’s so powerful that it might eventually allow physicists to understand the reason for quantities like the masses of elementary particles. However, string theory only works if you assume a world with ten dimensions – one time and nine space dimensions. No one has figured out what string theory implies for the world of one time and three space dimensions that we actually experience – not only with our senses but with our most sensitive scientific instruments.

Consequently, this beautiful theory has not made a single testable prediction yet (except possibly for the existence of supersymmetric particles like the WIMP dark matter particle), so we don’t yet know how to evaluate its claim that particles are “really” vibrating superstrings.

There is a second meaning to tail-swallowing that may seem strange at first. Swallowing may have existed before the serpent.  At the beginning of the Big Bang, if our present understanding of the laws of physics is right, there was nothing but the head of the Cosmic Uroboros with the tip of the tail in its mouth. There was little of the body because there was little difference between the smallest scale and the largest scale.  The smallest scale is fixed by the constants of nature, and the largest scale, the size of the cosmic horizon, was only a little larger than that because the universe was so young and had not yet had time to expand. The body filled in later as the universe expanded and evolved. Thus tail-swallowing may express a fundamental aspect of the evolution of an expanding universe.

The Cosmic Uroboros represents not only a way to structure the universe but also a dream that has been an underlying personal motivation for many scientists. “What I’m really interested in,” Einstein said, “is whether God could have made the world in a different way; that is, whether the necessity of logical simplicity leaves any freedom at all.” This question is still open. The universe could possibly have been organized in many ways and just happened to end up the way we find it. But it is also possible that there was only one way everything could have worked together. The dream of physicists is to find the theory that answers such questions and ties everything together – a “theory of everything.”

The Cosmic Uroboros swallowing its tail thus symbolizes the dream of a theory of everything, which will tie together our understanding of the universe. Through this dream, physicists are expressing a desire perhaps even more ancient than the uroboros symbol: to feel coherent and at home in the wholeness – to experience reality as One.

Even if there is no success in that quest for years to come, the Cosmic Uroboros can help us right now to appreciate our extraordinary place in Midgard. The centrality of Midgard on the Cosmic Uroboros has nothing to do with the units we choose to measure length. Whether measured in centimeters or light years, Midgard would always fall in the middle. Midgard, as we have said, is not a special location in space – it is a special size scale, and it is everywhere in the universe.

As a serpent, the Cosmic Uroboros is much more than a circle, because every point on it is unique.  There is a head and a tail, and therefore every point in between has a relative position. There is a beginning and an end, even though they overlap and are interdependent and inseparable. On a circle, all points are identical. On the Cosmic Uroboros every point has its own meaning. The uroboros has been used to represent the continuity of whatever universe a tribe or people perceived themselves to be living in.

Something about the serpent swallowing its tail has resonated in the human imagination for thousands of years. We humans are not yet able to explain the perennial attraction of this symbol, and it may be deeper than our conscious understanding. The serpent’s exceedingly simple and flexible body has been endlessly twisted and artistically embellished. It has been seen as both goddess-like and evil, fascinating and repulsive, finite and infinite, yin and yang. None of this rich history would have been implicit in a circle. The uroboros symbol as we interpret it here is capable of representing the modern universe at least as completely as it represented the universes our ancestors imagined. The Cosmic Uroboros resurrects an ancient symbol whose possibilities are by no means exhausted. 


    

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

New York Mayor Defends Proposed Ground Zero Mosque!

 
 World Trade Center after 9.11. terrorist attack

"New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has defended the construction of a proposed mosque near Ground Zero, saying that it must be allowed to proceed because the government "should not be in the business of picking" one religion over another." To read the rest of the article please click the link below.


A decision to allow a construction of a mosque in the vicinity of the Ground Zero in New York City stirred a controversy if not outrage. How would anyone feel if the Germans erected a memorial to fallen SS troops at the entrance to Auschwitz? Or at least a tiny statue of Eichmann? How would anyone feel if the Japanese erected a Shinto temple at Pearl Harbor? Wouldn't this be equally reprehensible? 


P.S.

The ground zero mosque, called Park 51, has applied for a $5 million grant of federal funds from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. The Corporation, set up to rebuild lower Manhattan after 9-11 is actively considering the grant request. Imagine! A federal entity set up to rebuild lower Manhattan giving tax money to a mosque designed to celebrate the attacks that killed 3,000 Americans!

The ground zero mosque will offer courses in Shariah Law and will doubtless spawn hundreds of new terrorists eager to pick up where the 9-11 hijackers left off.

Officially, the federal funds would not go to religious activities, but to “fund social service programs for all the residents of Lower Manhattan such as domestic violence prevention, Arabic and other foreign language classes, programs and services for homeless veterans, two multi-cultural art exhibits and immigration services,” according to its grant application.

The sponsors of the mosque have no business rubbing the noses of the victims’ families in the dirt by building the mosque right next to the site of 9-11. But there is especially no justification for using our tax money to make it possible.

Thanks to the outpouring of 71,000 signatures, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation has refused federal funds for the Ground Zero Park51 Mosque! They made their decision at their meeting on Wednesday, September 7th.