Clinton Ober, a pioneer in the cable TV industry, discovered real health benefits for what he calls Earthing, his term to describe going barefoot outside or having bare-skin contact with special conductive mats or sheets indoors that are connected to the ground (via an outlet or wire). His book, Earthing, explores this simple remedy that relieves conditions, sometimes deadly, that are created by various kinds of inflammation.
Inflammation – that is the buzzword alive on the internet. A variety of providers are in on the act with expensive diagnostics and products. However, to explore Earthing, we don’t have to buy lots of products that help to ground us to the earth; anyone can try going barefoot for free and keep track of the changes.
Natural energy from the earth may be the ultimate anti-inflammatory, and anti-aging medicine. Those of us who grew up going barefoot from the time school let out in June until our feet stretched out to the next size by September, know something about how good that felt and how strong and healthy we were by summer’s end.
I realize that chores to help with the gardening, putting food by for winter, building huts in the woods, swimming, and more, were all part of summer, but those activities all kept us in close contact with the earth’s energy.
We wore leather-soled shoes to school, great conductors that have been replaced by synthetic soles that insulate us from the earth’s energy by means of an outsole, midsole, insole, footbed, cushioning, and sock liner. A guaranteed energy blockout.
It took us a while to toughen up the soles of our feet as kids. This week, I tried toughening up my foot soles for a few days and then decided to hike around the Smart’s Brook loop barefooted. Hardly into the hike along the Pine Brook Trail, I stepped on some dog pooh. I knew immediately what I had stepped on! It was not mud and definitely not the soft pine needles I had in mind. With the help of a nearby sapling stump and a root that conformed to my foot arch, the pooh was eliminated and any remains swiped out in the next mudhole. Nature does provide.
Half way up the trail, I decided to call it for round one and headed back to my car. We do need to reconnect to nature, to the earth, and I will continue to explore Earthing. I will also continue to oppose power lines that threaten our possibilities to connect with the earth, that threaten to wipe out the wildlife we need to keep our ecosystem in balance.
My only advice at this point is that if you decide to try Earthing, watch your step!
For 5,000 yrs., India’s Ayurvedic Medical System has claimed the digestive tract as the seat of all illness. Now, our Allopathic System has research that backs up that claim.
Neurologist, David Perlmutter’s most recent book, Brain Maker, cites his research and others who find that a combination of Probiotics and Diet are now relieving many health conditions, not just digestive complaints, and scientific research reveals that “90 percent of all known human illness can be traced back to an unhealthy gut.” The good news is that health and vitality also begins in the gut. That’s something we can do about.
While our problems did not begin with antibiotics, they have certainly been aggravated by routine antibiotic use that kills both helpful and harmful bacteria, hence the term ‘pro-biotics’ which are actually a diverse collection of friendly bacteria. After any round of antibiotic to treat specific infections, we need to reseed our digestive tract with friendly bacteria.
Here’s what probiotic bacteria do for us: they help us digest and absorb nutrients; create a physical barrier to harmful bacteria, viruses and parasites; neutralize toxins we take in with our food; prevent infections; support our immune system; produce enzymes, vitamins, and neurotransmitters; help us handle stress; and control the body’s inflammatory pathways, for starters. The list seems endless.
Not just any old probiotics will do. Lactobacillus strains are needed in the small intestine and Bifidobacterium strains in the colon. Perlmutter offers his protocol but your health practitioner can help you choose an appropriate preparation if you are interested in exploring the benefits. Probiotics don’t require prescription but they are pricey and some question the reliability of claims for what is in a capsule.
Dietary changes are less costly but require more thought and effort. Family lore includes stories about preparing fermented foods such as what Perlmutter recommends: plenty that provide us with natural probiotics: organic, plain yogurt, kimshi, sauerkraut, kombucha, pickled fish and vegetables, all of which can be prepared at home in large batches and stored.
Carbohydrates, not fats are the primary cause of weight gain. Since fat, not glucose, is the brain’s main food, he suggests our main food choices: butter, meat, cheese, eggs, abundant above ground vegetables and greens, and cooking with olive or coconut oil. Healthy, monounsaturated fats are in avocado, olives, nuts, wild fish, and some plants (flax seed oil). We also need good saturated fats like butter and coconut oil to recognize and destroy invading germs and to fight tumors.
The problem I have with considering coconut oil is that this new craze depends on the destruction of rain forest trees to supply coconuts. The problem with probiotic capsules is that they are financially out of reach for too many people.
The good news is that we all know what the food ‘hit list’ is: all that boxed, packaged, and bottled food, which is also pricey and can be replaced right now by overconsumption of peas, berries, asparagus, kohlrabi, zucchini, summer squash, greens, tomatoes, and more. We can take a leaf from the animals, load up on what is in season where we live, store some for later, drink plenty of water, and keep every muscle moving.
News that Whole Foods overcharged customers by mislabeling product weights brought groans from folks who thought they could shop with confidence at Whole Foods Markets. Over 20 years ago, I had a brief stint working the cash register at a Bread and Circus recently converted to a Whole Foods Market. Even then, I found that I was better off shopping the perimeter. Foods in the center aisles of the store: cereals, soups, salad dressings, canned goods, frozen foods, etc. all contained multiple forms of sugar, guaranteed to stimulate an appetite for more food, bigger servings, and insatiable appetites. Such foods reliably create health problems when consumed regularly.
When health food stores first opened, they offered mostly whole foods stored in bins. Produce came from local sources. Co-ops weekly sent a truck to the nearest bulk supplier. As demand rose for quality foods, suppliers began to deliver directly to health food stores and co-ops. At the same time, boxed, bottled and canned foods made their entrance with over 30 different forms of sugar added.
As a cashier, I noticed that many people came through with a cart full of junk food, sometimes not one whole food, just lots of boxes, cans and bottles. Invariably they would beam gratitude that they could shop at such a wonderful place for their family, even though they had to struggle financially to do it. Everything on the shelves at Whole Foods was the best food money could buy. I was in no position to advise them otherwise.
Today, wherever we shop, we must check labels. This week, I realized that the delicious peanut butter I have trustingly bought at natural food stores and snacked on by the spoonful for years, contains sugar. Sleuthing, I found only one brand that is just made of ground peanuts.
Food guru, Michael Pollan, cautions us to avoid packaged foods with more than 5 ingredients listed on their labels. Chances are, anything more will include extra sugars and chemicals we don’t need. This year, supermarkets rearranged their shelves to sandwich organic foods in with everything else. This means that people must slowly shop over the whole store and may, on impulse, buy foods they normally avoid. Stores try to market eye level products more heavily. Better choices are on top and bottom shelves.
The good news is that Farmers Markets and farm stands are in full swing. We now have many opportunities to enjoy the flavor of fresh berries, a mess o’ peas, and a choice array of vegetables and home grown produce free of additives. Best of all, the farmer will be there to field our questions.
I was stunned to hear on NPR that the top of Eversource’s plan is to hire New Hampshire people to do the logging necessary to put in their line for the Northern Pass. This means trees taken down to make 500 miles of new roads to service the line, in addition to widening and extending the existing corridor. This means 500 miles of water-sequestering trees – GONE. This means not only one wide swath through our forests for the main line, it also means ANOTHER swath for the roads connecting service to the line.
We feel sorry for California’s lack of foresight that has taken them too long to wake up to their water crisis. After years of development, building dams, and failing to replant precious forests, it is dues time for California. Cal Fire states that 95% of fires have a human cause, i.e. sparks from construction equipment.
The kind of logging Eversource proposes exploits the very trees that are capable of sucking up massive amounts of carbon dioxide, and decrease global warming. Instead, it promotes soil erosion as water sequestered by downed trees must be dispersed, wasted. This kind of logging destroys habitats, which, in turn, affects diversity at a time when the world is slowly waking up to the reality that we have to care for the earth and all life here if we want the earth to care for us.
NP continues to put out false information about the cost of undergrounding the line. Yet, a Hydro Quebec subsidiary pleased the people of Australia by undergrounding 100 miles there, which the Australians have found cost effective to install and maintain.
In northern NH especially, we are used to hearing plentiful running water; we even plan our loop hikes so we can access running water energy for an easier climb on the uphill. We have a steady stream of visitors who come to our mountains to relax and take in the spellbinding beauty of our notches, knowing they can hike in wilderness for days if they want and never run out of access to water. They can see moose, bear, flocks of wild turkey, weasels playing tag around a log; they can hike the Appalachian Trail full of breathtaking peaks and abundant wildflowers and birds; they can drive to scenic lookouts of vast, undisturbed land where the diversity we so need can thrive. They can come back to NH as often as needed to keep their life in balance.
Our job is to continue to steward our forests and recognize that our ability to keep each other well depends on our ability to honor the diversity that gives our forests life, and to say “No” to anything that threatens that diversity.
Despite our singularly cold winter, with signs that more moose calves have survived, Deer ticks seem to be more abundant than ever. Four ticks hopped on me during yesterday’s hike in the woods and set off a round of CSS (Can’t Stop Scratching.) We were hiking on Black Cap Mountain, enjoying the yellow wood violets, wild oats, spring beauties, and painted trilliums and stopped for lunch at a panoramic viewpoint of the Presidentials on a grassy knoll.
The local tick population must have been ecstatic with so many hosts to choose from and no one had liquid soap on hand to apply with a cotton ball so the ticks would fall off in 15-20 seconds. We knew enough not to squeeze the ticks to remove them so there was a lot of nail maneuvering to pick off the offenders.
To know what we’re dealing with and how to prevent bites, it helps to understand the life cycle of the Deer tick and what it needs to survive. The tick gets its name because the preferred host is a deer. Adult ticks feed on the deer’s blood, mate and, once the female eggs are fertilized, both the male and female die and drop to the ground where the eggs hatch to larva. The larva seeks a new host, a mouse or whoever is handy. The larvae molt to nymphs and continue to feed on mouse blood and other small mammals. Ticks are usually found on grasses, waiting for other victims, like us and deer, to pass.
Currently, the Centers for Disease Control recommend DEET, Picaridin, and Permethrin for insect repellants. All are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency. In the past, readers responded that 7% or 30% DEET had not served as a protection from tick bites for them. Products with 99% DEET, commonly used by hunting and fishing people seemed to have more success. However, Permethrin is the insecticide that people are finding effective against tick bites. Pyrethrum is a natural insecticide made from the flowers of a species of the Chrysanthemum plant. Permethrin is a synthetic insecticide whose chemical structure is based on natural pyrethrum. As an insecticide, it is currently sold as a 0.5% Permethrin Pump Spray.
When used as directed, Permethrin appears to have no harmful effect on the environment. It is NOT used on the skin. It is sprayed on your clothes (shirt, pants, socks, everything but your underwear) and one treatment will last up to six launderings or six weeks before clothing has to be treated again. You need to wash the sprayed clothes between wearings or check the product label for specific instructions.
Other readers have found Permethrin Tick Tubes to be effective, especially if you live in a wooded/grassy area, have pets, and need protection right in your own yard. Tick Tubes are designed for the little critters. The tubes are biodegradable cardboard tubes filled with permethrin-treated cotton balls. Mice gather the cotton for their nests. Deer ticks intending to feed on the mice are then killed when the mice return to their nests. However, the mice and other mammals are not harmed. Put these tubes around your yard and the mice will love you for it. Caution needs to be taken that children do not take them apart out of curiosity and handle the cotton.
If you are interested in purchasing either of these products, check your local camping or hunting supply store. Otherwise, both products are available on line.
IMPORTANT CAUTIONS: DEET comes in varying strengths and preparations, in roll-ons, sprays and liquid. If applied to the skin (which hikers and gardeners often do,) it needs to be thoroughly washed off with soap and water when home safely. DEET is potentially toxic. Body checking, especially the head and hairline, remains a must. Our heads have a rich supply of blood just under the surface. Check and re-check each other after time spent in tick-infested areas, especially if near grasses; get out of your clothes, do a complete body check, and shower well. Wash clothes to avoid spreading ticks to your home. Check pets routinely. Walk on the center of trails and save bushwhacking for winter. And don’t sit on a nice soft clump of grass to eat your lunch!
Permethrin is ONLY applied to clothing, NEVER to the skin. It is highly toxic to humans but safe when applied to clothing and not when clothing is being worn. For safety, clothing is sprayed according to specific directions on the bottle and left to dry for 2 hrs. before wearing. One reader has a separate bag he stores Permethrin sprayed clothes in between wearings.
A Deer Tick may only be the size of a sesame seed but if it has been sucking your blood, it will swell up much larger. If you are bitten and the tick has been on you for more than 24 hrs, or if you develop a fever, chills, headache, muscle & joint pain, fatigue, rash or any other symptom that seems odd for you, bring yourself and the tick to your health provider.
Time to spread the word and send in suggestions for what works for you. Thanks!
I just read Russ Roberts’ eye-opening book, How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life. The book is about Adam Smith’s real message to us. Smith, who wrote, The Wealth of Nations, a book that seemed to be the backbone of what has evolved as our US business model, had something far more potent in mind than the idea of creating corporate monopolies.
Smith wrote an earlier book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, detailing his philosophy on the futility of pursuing money with the hope of finding happiness. Rather, it is our interest in the good fortune of others that brings us pleasure.
It is not enough to make a lot of money, get ahead and acquire. We need to sense that we are contributing to the health and well-being of others, that the way we make our money must not leave others miserable.
This week, signs that we are waking up, are encouraging. Lisbon’s zoning board denied the asphalt company’s move to relocate in Lisbon because the town has a rule that no pollution can result from plant operations. The Army Corps of Engineers has just told Canadian hydropower that it has to bury it’s VT/NY line deeper to meet safety regulations, which will raise the cost possibly beyond what Canada is willing to pay for someone else’s safety.
People are signing up for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) memberships that assure them GMO-free produce this season. More organic produce is being offered at grocery stores. Workshops on composting, and planning home gardens are lining up. Northern Pass Opposition, now in it’s fifth year, is growing stronger as Hydro Quebec’s empty promises unfold. Plymouth Village Water and Sewer District (PVWSD) has followed the Bristol Library’s lead with a solar array.
More research is coming in that documents the effects of GMO seed, food and pesticides that erode the health of humans, animals and wildlife. Follow-up studies document a return to health when GMO-free food is resumed (see Jane Goodall, Seeds of Hope).
Harry Hintlian, who vacations in our area, manages Reforest The Tropics (RTT), a UN sanctioned carbon sequestration program in Costa Rica to replant the rainforest. These scientifically planted forests absorb over 10 times the amount of carbon dioxide compared to temperate zone forests. This project is supported by companies committed to 100 percent balancing of their carbon footprint.
Bottom line is: how can our efforts bring a better deal for everyone? Therein lies the possibility for real happiness.
Have you ever wondered What Plants Talk About? If that sounds like too far out a question, check out the video by that title on pbs.org and enjoy a fascinating surprise! I was amazed to hear that we only see a third of the forest above ground. Below is a mind-blowing family network of roots and fungi working together in the two-thirds of the forest that is underground. We know that trees absorb carbon dioxide and the bigger the tree, the more it absorbs.
The surprise for me was seeing and hearing about the network of fungi that coat all the roots and are part of a huge underground internet for fungus and tree families. And carbon is sucked down deep into their roots to be stored. Mother trees then send the bulk of the carbon as food to their young sprouts. Fungi cover the roots and bring in organic nutrients to the trees while the trees feed carbs to the fungi – symbiosis at its finest.
Because trees are capable of sucking up massive amounts of carbon dioxide, the more trees we have, the better our chances to decrease global warming. Energy problems invariably bring us to the realization that trees are key to our survival and cannot be exploited. Trees provide us with oxygen, heat, furniture, paper, tools, shade, and habitat for birds, squirrels, tree frogs and other members of the wildlife family. They also serve as holding tanks for water reserves and keep the land around them alive.
I just gave Jared Diamond’s book, Collapse, another read. I hoped to understand the pattern that caused so many civilizations to collapse. I hoped to learned something to enlighten us lest we end up another collapsed civilization. In all of the collapsed civilizations, deforestation was a factor or the major factor. In this information age, we are the first civilization to have the opportunity to learn from their mistakes.
Here’s the pattern that historically puts deforestation in motion: there was always a competitive streak among chiefs, priests, and rulers to outdo each other. Easter Island rival chiefs tried to do so with bigger and bigger statues. They cut down forests to provide the necessary staging to move the statues once completed. The last thing they did was to destroy each other’s statues. Having already destroyed their trees, they also destroyed wild life, water supply and soil, which led to starvation and cannibalism.
We have a big medical system, big food companies, big agricultural conglomerates, big pharmacy, and big energy competitors. Their precedence threatens our trees, water, and soil. Finding out what worked and didn’t work in other cultures can help us make better choices for our future.
Significantly, Japan has 73% of its land mass under forest management. Perhaps this has allowed the Japanese to recover from such devastating catastrophes.
As we reset our priorities this month, Earth Day can have special significance for us if we plant a tree as a symbol of our commitment to make saving our forests a top priority to keep each other well.
We seem to be wasting valuable time and energy needed to move forward with renewable energy alternatives. We barely hold one entity at bay when another rears its greedy head.
This week we learned that a NH asphalt plant is trying to relocate to Lisbon from an isolated sand pit in Dalton. The Lisbon location is near residences and businesses that would suffer from both the plant’s noise pollution and toxic fumes that are research-documented as carcinogenic.
Time was when three squares, enough sleep, and exercise were the commonly held prerequisites of robust health. Today, we learn that toxic fumes, noise pollution, water pollution, electromagnetic ray pollution and much more need our constant surveillance and local control to assure a reasonable shake at our health. We cannot count on most of our elected officials to safeguard the big picture.
Our regulating bodies need catch-up time. Our social activities increasingly revolve around gathering together to wake each other up or face a potential demise. We have the Northern Pass Opposition, the Iberdrola Wind Farm Opposition, the Kinder Morgan Pipeline Opposition, and now the Presby Asphalt Plant Opposition
We have Northern Pass Opposition to an energy supplier that continues to disrupt families and neighbors who struggle to stay alert to the dangers and future costs and threat to our health that this power line is set to charge.
We have Kinder Morgan’s Gas Line Opposition gatherings concerned about noise, water pollution, and financial bleeding that awaits us. Nine towns the line would go through have vetoed the project. Who is listening?
Asphalt production is not something that needs to be expanded for the future. We need to develop surfaces that are water permeable so that rain and runoff is sequestered in ground aquifers and by the roots of our trees. We do not need more noisy wind farms disrupting wildlife, destroying forest land and neighborhood ambiance.
Health is not just a matter of eating wholesome foods, getting plenty of exercise, finding satisfying work and friendships. Each day, we still have to muster up energy to stop whatever corporation threatens our health locally while purporting to provide jobs and cheap energy and better roads, none of which can be assured without health risks..
Time to encourage schools to explore new possibilities for energy. Time to encourage innovators to apply for a share of the 9 million dollars the legislature has in the budget to be used for the development of renewable sources of energy. Time to expand more ways to access solar. Time to stop adding new above-ground wires and begin to underground wires and clear out the cobwebs lining every road in NH. Time to develop affordable road and driveway surfaces that sequester precious water. Time to speak for the trees!
Governor Hassan (603-271-2121) and our legislators need to hear from each of us that our health depends on their support of renewable energy, clean air, noise control and sequestered water.