Hubris, and the avocado pit

Hubris, and the avocado pit

I was recently informed that the most recent fad to hit the health scene is the avocado pit. Yep, it’s that hard slippery seed disgorged from the avocado that you normally compost, or turn into a science experiment for the kids. And while it’s also great to keep the guac from going brown, I have yet to see anyone actually eat the pit. But apparently this is all about to change. Avocado pit, you see, contains antioxidants. If you receive regular science updates from sites like sciencedaily, or peruse r/science over at reddit, you will have likely noticed an uptick in the amount of research being conducted into plant chemicals. The recognition that natural compounds have a lot to offer is now being recognized, the best most recent example being the Nobel Prize in Physiology awarded to Youyou Tu for her work with artemisinin (derived from medicinal herb Artemisia annua). As a herbalist, it is both of great interest and also very gratifying to see all this scientific attention lav … [Read more...]

Food As Medicine

The fall semester for 2015 begins in one week! Here's a little preview of the Food As Medicine program: … [Read more...]

On what to feed your puppy

On what to feed your puppy

Some of you that follow my Facebook page have probably seen my updates detailing the birth of five puppies to my female dog (named Sophie) in late April. For those of you that haven’t seen them, I have compiled an online photo album of the last few months, detailing their growth and development. If I were to come up with a single word that describes the whole process of being surrogate grandparents to these baby canids, it would be ‘epic'. Every day since their birth has been a day of interest, excitement, and wonder. From a neurochemical perspective, snuggling with puppies has done a lot to raise the collective oxytocin levels at our house. Over the past summer, our front garden with its jumble of humans and puppies lying lethargically in the grass has at times resembled something like a opium den, attracting a steady stream of "customers" from far and wide.  Of course this bliss has been interrupted on occasion. For example, I definitely under-estimated their collective, destruct … [Read more...]

Lifestyle therapy in Ayurveda

Lifestyle therapy in Ayurveda

In the ancient Indian medical science of Āyurveda, the basis of all positive and sustainable action is rooted in dharma, a Sanskrit term that refers to the natural way of things. This ‘natural way’ applies to all facets of our lives, including diet, lifestyle, and medicine. Literally meaning to ‘follow the day’, dinacaryā is a series of ancient practices based on the principle of dharma, designed to optimize different aspects of health, including metabolism, digestion, and memory. Considered the ‘missing link’ absent in many different systems of medicine, both ancient and modern, the practice of dinacaryā in Āyurveda forms the basic structure of a happy and balanced life, and hence is also known as ‘the regimen of the wise’. The daily regimen in Āyurveda is described in the very earliest of its teachings, including the Suśruta samhitā and Caraka saṃhitā, which originally date back to before 1000 BCE. Dinacaryā is extolled through the history of Āyurveda, as the single most important … [Read more...]

Love, death, and magic mushrooms

Love, death, and magic mushrooms

Some of you that know me closely, or have been apprised of my personal situation over the last few months, know that the health of both of my parents underwent a sudden decline at the end of last summer. About three years ago my mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, but the cancer came back with a vengeance this fall, and just a couple weeks ago, she finally succumbed to the disease. To add to this complication, my step-father has late-stage Parkinson’s disease. Unfortunately, neither of them is particularly old: my mother died just before her 68th birthday, and my step-father is just 73. It has been an exceptionally challenging time for all involved. Layered into the situation is the reality of our family history, which to say the least, has been very painful. My mother met my biological father in 1968 when she was 20, and after a few weeks of dating my mother got pregnant. They weren’t in any sense a stable couple, and my mother after much deliberation decided to have an abo … [Read more...]