Thursday, May 31, 2012

Aging and Resveratrol



Good for the body, good for the mind, red wine has multiple health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s. Drink red wine for good health, great skin and even some jump to the genitals. But how does it work? What gives red wine its anti-aging benefits and makes it so important to aging well?

Resveratrol is an antioxidant compound that gained attention in the 1990s, when researchers examined red wine for its anti-aging properties and if it might indeed extend one’s life. And while its anti-aging benefits have been demonstrated in mice and rodents, a recent study claims proof of the same benefits in humans.

The study, conducted by the University of Buffalo, took place over six weeks and consisted of 20 people. Researchers split the group in half, with ten participants in a group receiving a placebo pill and the other a 40 milligram supplement of resveratrol. The researchers took blood samples from the participants at the beginning of the study, and again at weeks one, three and six.

The results will garner attention from anyone with an interest in living well and how to reduce risk of a variety of ailments associated with aging – resveratrol suppressed generation of free radicals in the supplement group, and the placebo did nothing.

Free radicals are unstable molecules that release inflammatory substances in the blood. Wrinkles, accelerated aging and conditions including Alzheimer’s and heart disease are linked to free radicals and degeneration of cells.

The researchers also noted that resveratrol suppressed an inflammatory protein tumor, TNF, and other compounds that inflame blood vessels and inhibit insulin, raising insulin resistance and risk of diabetes. Dietary sources of resveratrol include:
  • Red wine and grapes – The most common source of resveratrol, one ounce of red wine might have up to 1,000 micrograms of resveratrol. You’ll get more resveratrol in red wine than white, which isn’t fermented with grape skin and loses health benefits in the process.
  • Blueberries – A true super-food, blueberries are loaded with antioxidants and resveratrol is among them. Studies link blueberries to enhanced cognitive function and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s.
  • Dark chocolate – Proof that chocolate can be good for your health, dark chocolate is the second leading source of resveratrol, after red wine.
While the results suggest that resveratrol suppressed free radicals and might reduce the effects of aging, it’s possible that it wasn’t resveratrol, rather another anti-inflammatory within the extract responsible for the effects. The researchers note that just 20% of the supplement was resveratrol, and when further studied, the remaining ingredients might hold further promise as a free radical suppressant and link to aging well.

That said, resveratrol persists, for its purported anti-aging benefits and its ability to prevent common killers like diabetes and heart disease. And considering that the latter accounts for 25% of all deaths in the United States and is the leading killer of men and women in Canada and the United Kingdom, there’s little to lose in exploring resveratrol and what it might do.


      


Article courtesy of Natural Health Source website

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Delicious Ratatouille Recipe


 The ingredients

Ratatouille is a Provencal dish that originated in the area around present day Nice, where it was a poor French peasant fare at first. It was prepared in the summer with fresh summer vegetables and herbs. 

The word "ratatouille" derives comes from the French word "touiller," which means to toss food. 

The original recipe used only zucchini, tomatoes, green and red peppers, onions, and garlic. Most modern recipes have eggplant as one of the main ingredients. I love to add black olives. And I always cook it with good French red wine.

Ratatouille may be eaten on its own as an appetizer or a main course. It is also a perfect side dish to a lamb roast.

To really enjoy this sun infused Mediterranean recipe purchase ripe, organic vegetable.

 The dish

Ingredients:
  • 5 tablespoons virgin olive oil
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, crushed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 large red onion, quartered and sliced
  • 2 small eggplants, cut into cubs
  • 2 green bell peppers, coarsely chopped
  • 3 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped (peeled and seeded)
  • 2 medium-sized zucchini, cut into cubs
  • handful of Provencal black olives
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
  •  1/2 glass dry red wine
  • Celtic sea salt and black pepper to taste
Method:

In a large saucepan, carefully warm the olive oil over medium heat. Do not burn. Add onions and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. Add peppers. Stir and cook for 5-8 minutes. Add eggplant. Stir until coated with oil. Cook for another 8-10 minutes stirring occasionally to prevent vegetables from sticking to the pot. 

Add tomatoes, zucchini, and herbs. Mix well. Cover and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes. Add tomato paste and red wine. Cook for another 5 minutes. Toss in the black olives. Add chopped garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and cook for another 3-5 minutes, or until the vegetable are tender, but not overcooked. 

I prefer my vegetables cooked al dente. You may want to adjust the cooking time according to your personal preference.

Serve with French baguette and a glass of robust Provencal red wine. Enjoy in good company!

By Dominique Allmon ©2012


    

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Vitamin K - An Extraordinary Anti-Aging Nutrient



Learn how vitamin K strengthens bones, protects arteries, and prevents liver and prostate cancer and other degenerative diseases.

Unlike many other nutrients, vitamin K did not receive much attention in the past. New research, however, indicates that this vitamin is one of the most amazing anti-aging nutrients available to us. An ongoing scientific research suggests that vitamin K may play a significant role in preventing certain cancers and the Alzheimer's disease.

What is vitamin K? 

Vitamin K is a group of fat-soluble vitamins that can be found in nature and made in the body. Phylloquinone, or vitamin K1, is the natural form of vitamin K that is found in plants such as dark green leafy vegetables, alfalfa, and kelp. Menaquinone, or vitamin K2, is the vitamin K produced by the bacteria in our intestines. Menadione, or vitamin K3, is a synthetic compound that has the chemical structure of the natural vitamin K. This form of vitamin K, however, is regarded as toxic because it generates free radicals.

Vitamin K was discovered in 1929 by a Danish researcher Henrik Dam. He noticed that chicken that were fed a fat-free diet were susceptible to hemorrhage. Moreover, blood taken from these birds coagulated very slowly. Intrigued by this observation, he investigated this strange phenomena and found out that a particular substance was necessary for the blood to coagulate. The chickens in his experiment lacked it because that substance was found only in the fatty foods. He named that substance "coagulation vitamin" using the German spelling, hence the name vitamin K.

Vitamin K is easily destroyed by extreme heat, light, alkaline substances, strong acids, radiation, and oxidizing agents. Some research, however, shows that cooking does not significantly diminish vitamin K content in vegetables. 


Vitamin K is absorbed from the upper small intestine with the help of bile salts and pancreatic juices and carried to the liver where it is utilized in the synthesis of prothrombin - a key blood clotting factor in the body. Vitamin K is stored in small doses within the body. The highest concentrations are found in the liver, the pancreas, and in the bones. Any excess of this vitamin is excreted. High intake of vitamin E and calcium interferes with the absorption of vitamin K. 

Functions of vitamin K
  • The most important and best studied function of vitamin K is it role in the blood clotting process. Vitamin K is required for the synthesis of the coagulating factors, mostly the blood-clotting protein prothrombin.
  • Vitamin K protects the heart because it prevents the calcification of the aorta and the heart valves.
  • Vitamin K is responsible for bone health. Low serum levels of vitamin K are normally associated with lower bone mineral density and indicate an increased risk of hip fracture. Supplementation with vitamin K may improve bone mass in postmenopausal women. Research shows that when vitamin K is taken together with vitamin D3, it can prevent osteoporosis.
  • Vitamin K regulates calcium levels in the body. I helps keep calcium in the bones and out of the arteries. Scientists suggest that by regulating calcium, vitamin K may reverse hypertension and reduce the susceptibility to stroke.
  • Research shows that vitamin K has the potential to reduce inflammation in the body by inhibiting interleukin-6, a substance that affects the immune system and is responsible for the inflammatory processes in the body.
  • According to the latest research conducted in Japan, vitamin K may be involved in blood sugar control. Pancreas has very  high concentrations of vitamin K and researchers discovered that this vitamin has some effects on insulin and glucose concentrations in the body. Laboratory tests showed that insufficient levels of vitamin K in the body interfere with the clearance of glucose causing release of too much insulin. This discovery may be of great importance in diabetes prevention and treatment.
  • Studies demonstrated that vitamin K is a powerful antioxidant. It fights free radicals in the liver and protects linoleic acid from oxidation. It may be useful in preventing liver cancer. Research conducted in Germany also shows that vitamin K may prevent prostate cancer.
  • Vitamin K supports the brain and the nervous system. Scientists discovered that vitamin K is required for the synthesis of the fats called sphingolipids that are critical in the formation of the myelin sheath - an outer wrapping around the nerves. This discovery may be useful in the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer's disease.
Nutritional sources of vitamin K

Most dietary vitamin K come from vegetable especially from dark leafy greens such as kale, chard, and collards and from cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage. Blackstrap molasses, fermented soy products, and polyunsaturated oils also contain significant amounts of vitamin K. Vitamin K is also found in egg yolks, cow liver, fish liver, yogurt, and Swiss cheese. 

Deficiency

Deficiency of vitamin K is very rare and is associated with impaired absorption rather than with inadequate diet. Deficiency occurs when the body cannot absorb this vitamin from the intestines or when the intestinal flora has been destroyed by prolonged treatment with antibiotics. People suffering from cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, and cholestasis may become deficient. Symptoms of vitamin K deficiency usually include tendency to bruises, nose bleeding, gastrointestinal bleeding, gum bleeding, and heavy and prolonged menstrual bleeding.  
 
Recommended daily dose

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin K is 80 µg per day for adult men and 65 µg per day for adult women. No more than 50 µg per day may be administered to the newborn babies to prevent hemorrhage. 

A healthy, balanced diet usually provides 75 - 150 µg of vitamin K in its natural, bio-available form.

Warning

Although there is no known toxicity associated with high doses of the naturally occurring vitamin K1, synthetic forms of this vitamin should be avoided. High intake of vitamin K is not recommended for individuals taking anticoagulant medications such as Warfarin. Their diet should not contain more than 120 µg of this vitamin.

By Dominique Allmon

Creative Commons License
Vitamin K - An Extraordinary Anti-Aging Nutrient by Dominique Allmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.




*This information is for educational purpose only. It is not meant to diagnose or cure a disease.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Lemon Mint Sorbet



Is there a better way to celebrate summer than to indulge in guiltless ice cream consumption? Especially if it is home-made?

I love any ice cream, but when temperatures rise mercilessly I opt for a lighter and more refreshing flavor like lemon, lime or pineapple. A sorbet is probably the best choice on a hot summer day. And if fresh herbs such as mint, thyme, sage or lavender are added, the gustatory experience is rather ecstatic.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup chopped mint leaves
  • zest of 1/3 lemon
  • dash of kosher salt to enhance the taste
  • 1 cup champagne 
  • few small finely chopped mint leaves for decoration
Method:
  • In a skillet dissolve sugar in water and slowly bring the mixture to boil. Simmer the syrup gently stirring occasionally.
  • Place lemon zest and mint leaves in a mixing bowl and pour syrup into it. Mix well and let it sit for 20 minutes or so. Strain through a fine sieve.
  • Stir in lemon juice. Add champagne.
  • If you have an ice maker follow the manufacturers instructions. If you do not have one, simply use an ice cube dish. Pour the lemon champagne mixture into the dish and place it in the freezer. When ice cubed are formed, throw them into a blender and process until smooth.
  • Mix in the mint leaves and serve in chilled glasses. Enjoy in good company!
If you want to make a sorbet without alcohol you have to add more water and more lemon juice. However, alcohol prevents sorbet from setting hard like an ice rock and allows you to scoop it nicely into the glasses.
 
By Dominique Allmon



Image by Lottie Davies



Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Lose Weight with Wild African Mango



Obesity is a major risk factor for many diseases including cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and Type 2 diabetes. For many people weight loss has become a necessity. Losing weight, however, proves very difficult at times.

As we age, our metabolism often slows down and it is more difficult to lose weight now than it was when we were in our twenties or thirties. It is important to understand these physiological changes and to adjust our nutrition accordingly. Some people, however, may became either glucose or leptin resistant and need more than a simple adjustment of their nutrition.

There are many products on the market making spectacular claims about weight loss. Some of them have excellent results, while others bring disappointment and may even cause damage to health. Information about weight loss products and dieting is confusing at times and may discourage those who want to lose weight from taking any action at all, especially if they have tried to lose weight before and did not succeed.

A serious research is being conducted all around the world since obesity is becoming an acute problem in many countries. Plants that have been used for weight loss in many traditional cultures are now investigated in controlled laboratory settings. The results are very promising and give hope to countless people struggling with health challenges related to the excess weight they are carrying around.

One such plant is the wild African mango (Irvingia gabonensis) also known as the bush mango or ogbono. Research shows that Irvingia extract  can help overweight individuals shed their unwanted pounds. In addition, this extract can help lower the levels of bad cholesterol.

The bush mango is native to West Africa and grows mostly in Southern Nigeria and Cameroon. The tree produces small fruits that look like mangoes, hence the name. The flesh of these fruits is sweet and juicy, but the natives also utilize their seeds. Just like other nuts and seeds, African mango seeds are high in fat. The oil can be extracted and is used for cooking and in soap making, but more often, the nuts are dried, crashed or ground to a fine flour that is used in local cuisine to thicken soups and stews or to bake a cake called "dika bread". The flour is high in carbohydrates, calcium, iron, proteins, and fiber.

Studies show that the wild mango extract can produce considerable weight loss by inhibiting calorie absorption and storage. The extract exerts potent anti-diabetic effect. It normalizes blood sugar and increases the activity of enzymes involved in cellular energy metabolism. Further, the extract also lowers the levels of "bad" cholesterol, at the same time increasing the levels of beneficial cholesterol in the body. Wild mango extract is also capable of inhibiting the enzyme amylase which is responsible for breaking up the starches into sugar. In this way irvingia extract is useful for dieters who wish to restrict their total carbohydrate exposure. In addition to blocking amylase, the extract acts directly on fat cells in the body. It helps reduce the lipid formation and storage.

What is Leptin?

Leptin is a fat-burning and appetite-suppressing hormone. It modulates appetite by sending signals to our brains when we have consumed enough calories. It also enhances the body's ability to utilize fat deposits as energy source.

As we age our cells may become leptin resistant and this hormone loses its ability to regulate body weight. The more overweight we are, the more leptin circulates in the body in attempt to inform the brain that there are enough fat cells in the body and that our food intake is adequate. But because these fat cells are constantly infused with leptin, they lose their sensitivity to this hormone. We develop leptin resistance, or the inability to respond to the satiety signals, and as a consequence are unable to lose belly fat or to maintain optimal weight. This condition is paired with insulin resistance and we develop so called metabolic syndrome.

Seed extract of the wild African mango shows a great promise in correcting leptin resistance. It enhances the breakdown of fat in fat cells and signals the brain to turn on the satiety message. The extract also shows the ability to increase insulin sensitivity and to inhibit amylase - a digestive enzyme responsible for carbohydrate digestion. People who participated in 10-week studies not only lost some weight, but also showed improved blood levels of total cholesterol, fasting blood glucose, and the C-reactive protein.

Dosage

The suggested daily dose of wild African mango seed extract is 150mg taken twice a day approximately 30 minutes before meals. It is best to take the extract before breakfast and before lunch.

The extract is fairly safe and it is often mixed with such nutrients zinc, chromium, caffeine, and green tea extract. The extract will not work for overweight people who consume more calories than they can actually utilize. One cannot irresponsibly overeat and expect to lose weight with pills and potions. No pill can substitute healthy diet and exercise. And no pill can take away our responsibility for the choices we make. But like no other product on the market, wild African mango regulates many aspects of healthy weight loss and helps you maintain high levels of energy during the day.

By Dominique Allmon

*This information is for educational purpose only. It is not meant to diagnose or cure a disease.

         


Creative Commons License
Lose Weight with Wild African Mango by Dominique Allmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Image by Alex Craig 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

SpaceX Makes History! Dragon in Space!


Falcon 9 over Florida
Falcon 9 over Florida
“Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead
A privately owned company made history today! The California-based Space Exploration Technologies SpaceX successfully launched its unmanned Dragon capsule into orbit at 3.44 this morning, May 22,  from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The Dragon was carried by the Falcon 9 rocket and reached the orbit 9 minutes after lift off. Its mission is the International Space Station. The craft is programmed to perform a number of maneuvers which include docking with the ISS.

After successful docking the astronauts will be able to access the Dragon which carries supplies for the ISS.

Every launch into space is exciting, but success of a privately owned company after decades of NASA is really something special. The future belongs to the visionaries!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Surviving Alien Invasion



Last weekend my husband and I went to see the movie "Battleship" in which the Earth is invaded by belligerent aliens after some scientists sent an invitation, of sorts, into outer space. Watching such movie in Roswell, NM adds a special flavor to the experience.

I grew up reading Jules Verne and Stanislaw Lem and I hardly missed any science fiction movie. And, like millions of others, I watched the first man walk on the moon.

Although I have never seen an UFO, I always believed that there must be other civilizations out there. Or at least other living creatures still unable to establish contact with us here on Earth. 

With all the alien conspiracy theories and all the UFO sightings, haven't you ever wondered why respectable scientists such as Michio Kaku, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Stephen Hawking are even discussing the subject? Or why would the United Nations Organization appoint an obscure Malaysian scientist, Mazlan Othman, as a head of the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs? Maybe we are not alone after all and "they" know more than "they" want to admit.

One does not need a degree in astrophysics to imagine that if aliens were coming here, their technology would be superior to ours. And they might not be friendly at all. Considering this, we probably are in a great danger. And it doesn't matter that in the movies humans always win. As individuals, most of us are completely unprepared for the invasion.

Worse even! Most of those who hope to survive an invasion are unaware that they can actually prepare themselves for such an event.

Countless manuals teach survival techniques. My husband even owns one. We have discovered it last year in a small bookstore in Roswell. It is the ultimate and indispensable survival manual that should be studied by every human being on Earth. Written by W.H. Mumfrey, The Alien Invasion Survival Handbook is a defense manual for the coming extraterrestrial apocalypse. 

Like no other book on the market, this book discusses the perils of alien abduction and offers comprehensive self-defense and survival program. Resistance is your prime line of defense, but resistance alone is not enough. You must fight back and Mr. Mumfrey explains how.


And if you survive this, you can survive anything.

By Dominique Allmon ©2012




Also of interest

    

Image by Gregory Crewdson
Image source here


Healing Properties of Smoky Quartz


Smoky Quartz Cluster

Smoky quartz is a macro-crystalline variety of quartz. Like other quartz crystals smoky quartz is a silicon dioxide mineral. It usually forms transparent hexagonal, rhombohedral  crystals. Macroscopic crystals commonly occur as horizontally striated hexagonal prisms terminated by a combination of positive and negative rhombohedrons forming six sided pyramids. 

 The name smoky quartz derives from the smoky color that ranges from grayish-brown to dark brown and even black. The smoky color results from natural exposure to radiation. It forms from free silicon that was released from silicon dioxide during the formation of crystals. Smoky quartz is a rather prevalent mineral that is mostly mined in Colorado, USA, in Brazil, Australia, Madagascar, Switzerland, and Scotland where it is considered to be a national stone. 

Since ancient times smoky quartz was used in many cultures because it was rather easy to cut it to gems and ornaments. This beautiful crystal was considered sacred by the Druids. In shamanic cultures smoky quartz was used in rain gathering ceremonies. The gem was often found on top of the ritual wands used by some of the North American native tribes, especially the Cherokees. Smoky quartz was also popular for making snuff bottles in ancient China. Ancient Romans used it for carving intaglio seals. 

In esoteric circles smoky quartz is regarded as a grounding stone providing physical and psychic protection from negative energies. It can help remove negative energy and transform negativity of any kind into positive energy. It can be used to cleanse the aura.

Smoky quartz is considered to be a stone of abundance and a luck bringer. In difficult times it helps enhance the survival instinct and determination as it keeps one's mind focused on success and the realizations of personal goals and dreams. It enhances intuition and promotes personal pride and joy.

It helps elevate mood and gently remove emotional blockages. It can transform negative emotions such as fear, anger and jealousy into positive energy. It helps clear mental clutter and promotes focus. It brings calm and serenity and helps relieve grief and depression.

Smoky quartz is considered to be a perfect stone for meditation as it helps refine the vibratory energies within body and create clarity of the mind thus facilitating access to subconscious wisdom. It grounds during the meditation and facilitates alignment between the lower and higher selves. It activates the flow of the kundalini energy and enables access to higher states of consciousness. The gem also helps accept one's own sexuality.

The gem is associated with the root chakra and is, therefore, believed to promote physical health of organs of the abdomen including stomach, kidneys, adrenals, pancreas, and the reproductive organs. It can help alleviate leg cramps and ease the hip pain. It can even cure headaches. Smoky quartz promotes detoxification, regulates body fluids and facilitates the healing process. 

For healing purposes smoky quartz crystals can be placed on the body, especially where pain is experienced. To reduce stress it is suggested to hold a crystal in each hand and sit quietly for a few moments. Smoky quartz can be used to produce gem elixir that gently works within the body.

This amazingly beautiful mineral can be placed in any room of the house to purify and balance the energies. It is believed that smoky quartz placed in the bedroom near or around the bed helps the couple to overcome communication problems.

For best results make sure that you purchase natural smoky quartz crystals. Artificially irradiated crystals are dark and opaque and may not bring the same healing results.

By Dominique Allmon

         

Creative Commons License
Healing Properties of Smoky Quartz by Dominique Allmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
 


*This information is for educational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or cure a disease. 


Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Dream Catcher



The Ojibwa (Chippewa) believe that night is full of both good and bad dreams. When a dream catcher is hung above the place where you sleep it moves freely in the night air and catches the dreams as they drift by. The good dreams, knowing their way, pass through the opening in the center of the webbing while the bad dreams, not knowing the way, are caught in the webbing and destroyed at the first light of the morning sun.

There are many variants to the dream catcher legend, some which say both the good and bad dreams are captured and some which say the good dreams slide down the feather to those sleeping below. Although the Ojibwa are credited as the first people to use Dream Catchers many other Tribes and Native peoples have adopted Dream Catchers into their culture. Even though the designs and legends of Dream Catchers differ slightly, the underlying meaning and symbolism is universal and is carried across cultures and language barriers.

Everybody dreams.

Long ago when the world was young an old Lakota spiritual leader was on a high mountain and had a vision. In this vision, Iktomi, the great trickster and teacher of wisdom, appeared in the form of a spider. Iktomi the spider picked up the elder's willow hoop which had feathers, horsehair, beads and offerings on it, and began to spin a web. He spoke to the elder about the cycles of life; how we begin our lives as infants, move on through childhood and onto adulthood. Finally, we go to the old age where we must be taken care of as infants, completing the cycle. "But," Iktomi said as he continued to spin his web, "in each time of life there are many forces; some good and some bad. If you listen to the good forces, they will steer you in the right direction. But, if you listen to the bad forces, they'll steer you in the wrong direction, and may hurt you. So these forces can help or can interfere with the harmony of Nature."


While the spider spoke, he continued to weave his web. When Iktomi finished speaking, he gave the elder the web and said, "the web is a perfect circle with a hole in the center. Use the web to help your people reach their goals, make good use of their ideas, dreams and visions. If you believe in the Great Spirit, the web will catch your good ideas and the bad ones will go through the hole." 

The elder passed on his vision to the people, and now many Indian people hang a dream catcher above their bed to sift their dreams and visions. The good is captured in the web of life and carried with the people, but the evil in their dreams drops through the hole in the center of the web and are no longer a part of their lives. 

Story source here & here

         

Images sources unknown but greatly appreciated

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Rhubarb in Season!



The Rhubarb

Rhubarb is a perennial plant belonging to the genus Rheum in the family Polygonaceae. It is related to buckwheat and has a slightly earthy and sour taste. Rhubarb thrives in cold climates. It originated in the regions of Western China, Tibet, Mongolia, and Siberia.

The Chinese cultivated rhubarb for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. The plant was mentioned in the Chinese materia medica compendium "The Divine Farmer's Herb-Root Classic" as early as 2700 BC. The dried root was a popular remedy for a wide range of illnesses. It has been used to cure fevers, to cure constipation and as a blood purifier. The stalks are edible, but the leaves are highly poisonous.

The word rhubarb derives from the Greek words "Rha" and "barbaron." "Rha" is a Scythian name of the Volga River in present-day Ukraine. Rhubarb grew abundantly along its banks. "Barbaron" means "foreign" or "barbarian." Together, the word "rhabarbaron" meant roughly, "A plant of the barbarians from the banks of the Volga River."

During the Middle Ages rhubarb was considered an exotic luxury in Europe. The plant had to be transported from Asia via the Silk Road and its price reflected the hazards of this trade route. Rhubarb was several times more expensive than precious herbs and spices such as cinnamon, opium and saffron. The chroniclers reported in 1542 that rhubarb sold in France for ten times the price of cinnamon. In 1657 rhubarb fetched over twice the price of opium in England.

Cultivation in Europe began in Italy around 1608 where it was used as a sweet filling for pies and tarts. By 1778 rhubarb was considered an edible plant in other parts of Europe, but it wasn't until early 1800s that the plant became widely popular. Those who ate the oxalate containing leaves got sick. This must have discouraged people from cultivation of this very interesting plant.

Health Benefits of Rhubarb

Rhubarb has many health benefits. The roots and stems are rich in anthraquinones, such as emodin and rhein. These substances are cathartic and laxative, which may explain the sporadic use of rhubarb as a weight loss aid.

The rhizomes contain stilbenoid compounds, such as rhaponticin, which seem to lower blood glucose levels in diabetic mice, however, more research has to be conducted before these compounds can be safely used in humans.

Rhubarb is very low in calories (about 25 calories per cup). It is rich in fiber (about two grams of fiber per cup) and is absolutely fat free. It also contains significant amounts of Vitamins A, C and K, and small amounts of B Vitamins. Rhubarb is rich in calcium (about 350 milligrams of calcium per cup of cooked plant) and potassium (230 mg per cup). It also provides some magnesium, manganese, iron, phosphorus, selenium, and copper.

Rhubarb is a good source of the sight and skin preserving carotenoid lutein. It contains 207 mcg lutein per cup.

Rhubarb contains such antioxidant compounds as lycopene and anthocyanins. This antioxidants fight free radicals and promote the health of your heart, eyes and immune system. They can also help prevent cancer. Cooked rhubarb delivers a good dose of lycopene, but raw rhubarb has practically none.


Rhubarb Vanilla Jam Recipe

Ingredients:
  • 8 cups diced rhubarb stalks 
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 vanilla beans
  • 4-5 Tbsp of water 
Method:
  • Place rhubarb and sugar in a heavy saucepan. Mix well.
  • Cut vanilla beans lengthwise and scrape the seeds out. Place the seeds and the split vanilla beans in the saucepan. 
  • Cook the rhubarb on a very low heat for 5-6 minutes. Stir gently from time to time. Add a little water to prevent burning. Stir again.
  • Cook for another 4-5 minutes stirring constantly until rhubarb is well cooked and has a smooth, jam-like consistency.  
  • Remove vanilla beans and discard.
  • Gently scoop the hot jam and place in clean, small jars. Let the jars open to cool off.
  • When the jam is cool enough, screw on the lids and refrigerate.
Enjoy in good company on fresh roll or croissant! 

*This jam will remain fresh in a fridge for about one week. To make it last longer you will have to pasteurize it by cooking the sealed jars in a water bath. 

By Dominique Allmon
Creative Commons License
Rhubarb in Season! by Dominique Allmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Images by Foodista & by Howard Shooter

      

Alchemy - Not Just for the Middle Ages


The alchemical wedding

By Mark Stavish, M.A.

Mention alchemy to someone and what do they usually think of? The Middle Ages with old men in some forgotten attic, laboring over bubbling flasks filled with some unknown fluid; or in front of an oven, trying to turn molten lead into gold. These are the images of the alchemist that time, mythology, and prejudicial history have handed down to us. 

It is true, that many of the early alchemists were the forerunners of the modern sciences. Physics and chemistry are indebted to these early ‘puffers' as they are despairingly called, for from their hours of sweat and travail, a host of modern advances came: porcelain, alcohol distillation, acids, salts, and a variety of metallic compounds, are the results of early alchemical experiments.

But if alchemy wasn't just a foolish waste of time in the search for a means to turn base metals into gold, what was it?

Egypt - The Mother of Earth Alchemy

Alchemy , or Al-Kemi , is said to be derived from Arabic or Egyptian meaning either divine chemistry or possibly black earth referring to the silt deposits from the annual flooding of the Nile river. However, regardless of where the word ‘alchemy' began, it has come to mean a very special form of spiritual development. 

From Plato's Greece to the European Renaissance, ancient Egypt was held to be the land, if not the origin, of all things mystical. The Egyptian god Thoth, called Hermes by the Greeks, was said to be the father of all magical arts and sciences, with numerous books on the laws governing creation being attributed to him. These books became the basis of most Western occult teachings, and are known as The Hermetic Corpus or the Body of Hermes , and refers to the total collection of works attributed to the ‘scribe of the gods'. The teachings and practice contained in these writings are called “Hermeticism , and in the Renaissance came to include aspects of Jewish mysticism (kabbalah), alchemy, the use of ritual, and communication with super-celestial beings, or angels. 

It is important to remember, that in the ancient world and until end of the Renaissance magic was seen not as superstition, but as a logical and coherent means of understanding the universe and controlling ones destiny. Magic, imagination, and magnetism are all related, both through there root -mag, as well as how they are seen through the mind of the magician or alchemist.

For the magician, or even the alchemist, the universe is perceived as a reflection of the imagination of the Godhead. Its laws are consistent and logical, and if we are created in the image of the Creator, then we can also create as the Creator has - through the power of imagination. Intense imagination creates a stress on the ‘fabric' of the universe, drawing to it magnetic power, thus bringing our images to fruition. 

The fundamental ideas of Renaissance magic and alchemy are also found in Eastern yoga, and are the basis for the New Age movement, as well as hypno-therapy, guided visualizations for mental health or cancer treatment, affirmations and an assortment of other psycho-spiritual practices.

Until the last half of this century, though, most of these spiritual practices were kept secret or hidden, mostly out of fear of political or religious persecution. Hence, they became known as occult or “hidden. Since many of them used the same signs, symbols, and literature as contemporary religions - Christianity, Judaism, and Islam - the hidden, occult, or Hermetic arts and sciences became known as esoteric or the secret meaning behind ‘exoteric' or everyday religious practices and dogma. 

This fear of imprisonment or death, limited instruction in esoteric practices to a trusted few, and only through a process of slow, careful, symbolic rituals and cryptic teachings known as initiations. Each of these initiations, or gradus, symbolized a step, or grade, in the students inner journey towards illumination. 

During the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries dozens of initiatic orders and societies were established across Europe for the dissemination of spiritual teachings. The most prominent of them being the Rosicrucians, Freemasons, and Knights Templar. Some of them taught their members through moral instruction, such as the Freemasons. Others, such as the Rosicrucians, taught practical mysticism, the use of ritual, the structure of the universe through kabbalah, as well as laboratory alchemy. Many of these organizations exist in Europe or the United States in some form today. 

In alchemy however, each of its steps or phases, represents not only a interior awakening (initiation), but also a physical, practical technique performed in the laboratory. The physical, laboratory work becomes a means of verifying spiritual and psychic expansions in consciousness. 

“Alchemy is an initiatic system in which you have no delusions. It is the only initiatic path where there is an objective control in the laboratory. So if your experiment shows you've gone beyond the ordinary material laws of the universe, it shows that you're an alchemist that has had an interior awakening, and that corresponds to the rule which says, ‘You will transmute nothing if you have not transmuted yourself first.' Says Jean Dubuis, founder and first president of the French alchemical organization, The Philosophers of Nature.

Dubuis, has actively practiced alchemy and related esoteric arts for nearly sixty-five years. His spiritual path began when he had a spiritual awakening at the age of twelve in the island cathedral of Mont Saint-Michel off the coast of Normandy. This awakening has led Dubuis to a lifetime of activities and intimate involvement in European esoteric circles. He has held positions in the French speaking branch of the Rosicrucian Order, AMORC, presiding over its Illuminati section of higher degree students; as well as various esoteric orders and societies. 

After tiring of the various levels of secrecy and often self-aggrandizing use of the power such vows bring, he renounced his memberships and established The Philosophers of Nature (PON) to open the paths of alchemy and kabbalah to everyone of good heart and mind. This is expressed in his view of the basic philosophy behind alchemy: 

Alchemy is the Science of Life, of Consciousness. The alchemist knows that there is a very solid link between matter, life, and consciousness. Alchemy is the art of manipulating life and consciousness in matter to help it evolve or solve the problems of inner disharmony. Matter exists only because it is created by the human seed. The human seed, the original man, created matter in order to involute and evolve. You see, if we go beyond what I said, the absolute being is an auto-created being, and we must become in its image auto-created beings. - Dubuis stated during a recent interview at the annual conference of The Philosophers of Nature. 

A similar statement was made by fellow Frenchman and alchemist Francois Trojani, during an interview with Joseph Rowe in the Summer 1996 issue of Gnosis.
 
“It (alchemy) is the dimension of interiority and of meaning in the deep sense: the meaning of life, the meaning of my life, questions about the relationship of spirit to matter, of the purpose and value of my own actions - the questions “where did I come from? , “why am I here? , “who am I? I'm not saying that alchemy provides precise answers to these questions, but that it operates in the dimension where these questions arise.

Because of Dubuis extensive professional career in electrical engineering for a major international electronics firm in France, and work in the field of nuclear physics with Nobel Prize winner Jollio-Curie, he has been described by fellow alchemists as one of the few people easily at home with either a periodic table of the elements or a kabbalistic diagram. This interest in electronics has led Dubuis to invent several devices designed to assist in experiencing out-of-body journeys and assist people in having a general initiatic experience. 

“In ancient times, as human evolution was going, we passed from kabbalah to alchemy. Now, I think that with the evolution of the world, perhaps we can put in the initiatic path electronic methods. It doesn't stop people from having to work themselves, but initiatic work will be easier. This corresponds to the fact that the whole evolution of the world must be accelerated. Dubuis stated. 

Dubuis stated that his ‘boxes' are more advanced than consciousness altering devices currently on the market. His work through light and sound synchronization as due existing machines, however, through a complex series of mathematical computations, Dubuis says, that he can specify the experiences one will have with his invention. The author has experienced two generations of Dubuis ‘mind machines' as they are called, and can attest to their superiority over existing ‘off the shelf' equipment. The clarity, impact, focus, and lasting effect of them was quite astounding.

Alchemy and Modern Psychology - Carl Gustav Jung

Just as esoteric initiation seeks to repair the psychic damages in humanity, so does its step-child, modern psychology. As a result, most folks today are familiar with alchemy through the extensive writings of Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung. Jung was attracted to alchemy through a series of dreams he experienced, as well as those of his patients, and their resemblance to alchemical symbols representing the stages of self-development, or individuation. However, for Jung, the entire alchemical work, or opus, was viewed from strictly psychoanalytic perspective. Transmutation was not the changing of physical matter, but of psychological matter, from destructive problems, into life enhancing attributes. 

Some of Jung's, seminal works outlining the process of human individuation, or self-becoming, are found in his Alchemical Studies; in which he interprets the meaning of the key stages and symbols of alchemy to explain the internal stages of human evolution, or what alchemists call, interior initiation.

Laboratory alchemists cautiously point out that despite his contributions, and the critical aspect of psychological work in alchemy, Jung is not considered a real alchemist. 

According to Dubuis, and others, for alchemy to be real alchemy, it must work on all levels of creation - spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical. While one or more can be left out and a transmutation of some sort effected, the results are not considered to be alchemical. 

“It is true that Jung made some additions to symbolism and gave people a means to look at their interior life. As regards to alchemy, Jungian psychology shows that alchemy is a universal art and science, and can lend itself to anything, but to reduce alchemy to a therapeutic allegory is a mistake, stated House.

Russell House, of Whinfield, Illinois, is the current president of The Philosophers of Nature, and has studied alchemy with, Jean Dubuis, Orval Graves, “Frater Albertus , and Manfred Junius, several of this centuries leading laboratory alchemists. From 1989 to 1993, House also co-instructed the alchemy classes taught at Rose-Croix University, sponsored by the Rosicrucian Order, AMORC, in San Jose, California. 

Alchemy and Alternative Medicine

Along with psycho-spiritual growth, and physical transmutation, alchemy has long been associated with creating cures for ‘incurable diseases' as well as near physical immortality. Dubuis has suggested that a carefully prepared tincture, or alchemically prepared medicine extracted with purified alcohol, made from acorns might prove useful in fighting cancer and some auto-immune diseases.

However, at least one of the major contributions of alchemy to alternative medicine is a little more accessible than either of these, that is, homeopathy. 

Available in most drug stores and super markets, homeopathic medicines are based on the alchemical practices of the Swiss 16th century alchemist Paracelsus. However, it was not Paracelsus that created homeopathy, he only supplied the theory that “like cures like and that smaller doses of medicine could cure more easily and quickly than large doses. Alchemical tinctures, like homeopathic medicines, are created from plants, minerals, and metals. Homeopathic treatment was formulated in 1796 and introduced to the United States in 1825. In Europe alchemically prepared and homeopathic medicines are available to the general public. 

According to House, “For the genuine alchemists, healing, like alchemy, must be on all levels and treat the whole being or person, and within the context of nature and evolution. The intent of the healer must offer encouragement in the interior world of the patient and not work against nature's plan of evolution. Like homeopathy, Bach Flower Remedies, or aromatherapy, alchemical medicines work on a subtle level and a crude one at the same time.

Alchemy and Quantum Physics - Time Travel and Other Weird Stuff

Since its inception alchemy has been associated with the idea of transmutation, or the fundamental changing of one thing, usually a base metal such as lead, into something else, in this case gold. 

But is transmutation possible? For alchemists past and present, the answer is a resounding “yes! 

Trojani is quoted as saying that transmutation has taken place and continues to be done. The reason given is that alchemical operations do not take place on the level of the periodic table of elements, but instead on the fabric of time and space itself. That this work on the elements on space and time energy constitutes work directly on oneself. 

In fact, Dubuis, Trojani, and their predecessor Francois Jollivet-Castelot all agree that not only is transmutation possible, but that it might not require much of the high-tech, high-energy equipment we have come to associate with sub-atomic physics. 

Jollivet-Castelot wrote book for the aspiring alchemist, Comment on devient alchimste (1897), or “How to Become an Alchemist , outlining the range of Hermetic disciplines required, and gave practical advice on purchasing laboratory equipment, as well as the moral requirements of the alchemist. 

Harvey Spencer Lewis, the founder and head of the American Rosicrucian Order, AMORC, was familiar with Jollivet-Castelot and his work. In 1915, Lewis himself is said to have transmuted a piece of zinc into gold using little more than an open flame and a crucible. The accounts of this public demonstration have been re-published several times in the organizations magazine, The Rosicrucian Digest (March 1942). In addition, in the August 1926 edition of, The Mystic Triangle, AMORC published Jollivet-Castelot's account of his own transmutation of base metal into gold, as well as the recipe for carrying it out.

In more recent times, alchemy has been investigated as a means of supplying cheap energy and for the potential creation of ‘super metals'. At the Palladian Academy's conference in January 1997, near Vichenze, Italy, Professor Christopher McIntosh, author of The Rosicrucians (Samuel Weiser Publications), and member of UNESCO's Educational Office, Hamburg, Germany, mentioned that the United Nations had recently sponsored a conference of its own in which alchemy was considered as a possible tool for the creation of new alloys. 

Along similar lines, Dubuis offered some insights into the phenomena of UFO's. 

“First of all, there are two hypothesis for extra-terrestrials. The first hypothesis says, that on earth, if you are close to the North Pole, there is some kind of fraternity of advanced people that checks on the global functioning of humanity, and that the flying saucers are theirs. The second hypothesis is that you cannot come from distant systems to earth in everyday physical conditions, so I think that things happen thus. In the system that they start from, they put advanced people onboard, and the speed of energy is multiplied by a hundred thousand or a million, they can come here rapidly, and when they enter the aura of the earth, they are brought back level by level and re-materialize. I don't know, and don't want to know if the Rosswell (New Mexico) story is true, but the details that have been given lead me to believe it is true, because they found material that go back to the invisible where they should be. They said the brain of the person had no barrier, this means that they are people that have no barrier between the visible and the invisible worlds. I don't know about the other organs. If it is a fake, then the people who have produced it have a very big knowledge of the occult, according to Dubois.

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