All posts by THNADMIN

Life with a Drill Sergeant, Chapter 3 – Cuba

I’d never been on a plane like this before.  There were no individual seats – just 2 long benches, one on each side of the aircraft.  No stewardesses, no drinks, nothing.  My sister and I were the only kids; everybody else was dressed in military uniform.  I don’t even think there were seat belts on this ‘puddle jumper,’ as my dad called it.  I also couldn’t understand how there could be so many bumps in the air.  I tried really hard not to throw up.  Thank goodness that the flight from Florida to Cuba was a short one.

We landed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a.k.a. “Gitmo.”  It was 1989.  I was nine and my sister was six.  My dad was a 31-year-old Marine training us as if we were his little soldiers.  We weren’t very good at taking orders, but we tried our best to keep him happy.  I feared and loved my father the way Catholics fear and love God.  We stepped off the plane and walked into an outdoor sauna.  I was instantly soaked and sticky.  I felt uncomfortable breathing in the thick, moist blanket of air.  It was time to adapt to the ungodly humidity.

We stayed in the Marine Corps barracks until our house was ready for us to live in.  Our small dorm room had two little beds as hard as the polished concrete floor.   We were provided with clean sheets and scratchy, olive-green wool blankets.  We ate at the chow hall with all the Marines.  I wasn’t expecting the food to be great, but when I saw the lobster, steak, potatoes, french fries, ice cream, and chocolate milk I got excited!  The amount and variety of food being served was unbelievable.  I don’t think that my taste buds were as developed because my dad didn’t seem quite as impressed with the quality.  We ate until we were stuffed and took some leftover french fries home with us.  We decided to take an ‘after dinner stroll’ to check out our new surroundings.

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We spotted the infamous hutia (pronounced “hoo-chee-uh”) better known as the “banana rat.”  It looked like a huge rat (the same size as a bloated cat), and apparently they liked french fries.  The banana rat cautiously moved toward us and my dad suggested that we give the massive rodent some of our fries.  My sister and dad were enthralled with the new animal but my eyes were taken with movement in the background.  Just behind the banana rat were some palm trees and thick foliage.  Something was slowly and smoothly sliding through the leaves on the ground.  My eyes didn’t want to believe what I was seeing.  It was a massive Cuban boa constrictor and it was heading in the direction of the banana rat…and us!  I was really excited and curious, so I pointed it out to my dad. He thought I was just making things up until he saw what I was talking about with his own eyes.  In a worried tone he said that it was time to go and so we did.  I kept asking him about the snake and he kept changing the subject.

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When we finally got our 2 bedroom house we had to wait several weeks for our furniture and belongings to arrive from Ohio.  In the meantime we were provided with “Flintstone furniture”.  My dad called it that because it looked and felt like something out of the Stone Ages.  It served its purpose and I thought it was fancy.  It looked like it belonged in a dentist’s office and so I thought that it was special.

When we examined our new home for the first time we found a large tree that shaded most of the backyard, and from the tree hung a tire swing!   I ran over to play on it and felt that I was stepping on tons of black seed pods.  I picked one up to examine it closer.  My dad told me that’s how the banana rat got its name.  They didn’t eat bananas; their feces looked like tiny, black bananas.  I dropped the hardened poop from my hand and realized that there was very little grass on the ground – the entire backyard was littered with banana rat feces.  I asked where the rats were.  I found out that they lived up in the palm trees and stayed there during the day, because they are a nocturnal species.  Huge rats that climb and live in trees!  At night I heard dozens of them scampering around in my backyard searching for food.  They were skittish creatures that didn’t cause any harm except that they crapped all over your yard and creeped you out with the sounds of their sporadic movements in the dark.

I recall a distinct memory that still tugs at my heart.  My sister and I were hanging out in our new home.  My dad was at work.  It was still summer and school wouldn’t start for another week or so.  We were playing with our Barbie dolls on our Flintstone furniture when we saw it at the same time – our first encounter with a big, furry, black tarantula.  My sister and I squealed and jumped on top of our thick, wooden coffee table.  I didn’t know what to do, but as the older sibling I was in charge and would have to come up with a plan.  I didn’t know how dangerous the tarantula was, but I didn’t want to take any chances.  I quickly ran into the kitchen to look for some sort of insecticide.  I found a bottle of 409 All-purpose Spray Cleaner.  I sprayed the tarantula continuously unloading half of the bottle on the poor critter.  At the time I felt like I was the hero and I was saving my little sister from the mean, old spider.  When it stopped moving and started to shrivel up and I was certain that it was dead, I got a broom and swept its limp carcass out the front door.  When my dad came home I told him what had happened.  To my surprise he was disappointed in me.  He said that the poor spider suffered a slow death and that I should’ve just swept it out the door while it was still alive.  I no longer felt like the hero; I felt like I was the bad guy.  My falsely interpreted victory was short-lived.

My sister and I were no stranger to chores.  Our dad made us sweep and swab the entire house at least once a week (it felt more like three times a week).  There was no carpet in the house but there was plenty of floor space.  My dad taught me how to mop properly just the way the military had taught him.  I was expected to help do the laundry, wash and dry the dishes, sweep and swab our 2 bedroom house, and keep my bedroom clean.  My ‘perfectionist attitude’ actually worked against me because I would do a stellar job cleaning every single smudge and speck of dirt, while my sister just made more of a mess.  Basically, all of the cleaning was done by my father and I, and I hated it. I hated doing the mindless work, but I couldn’t allow myself to do a ‘less than perfect job’.

Our house was immaculate yet they still came.  Every corner I turned in my house was done in fear; fear of something so horrible and disgusting that I may actually be experiencing heart palpitations as I write this.  I feel dizzy, nauseous, and ready to collapse just thinking about them:  Cuban cockroaches.  These are no ordinary roaches, no sir.  The first time I saw one in my house was one of the worst days of my life.  The image of that enormous, flying roach has burned its memory into my mind.  Yes, that’s right, they are freakin’ huge and they fly!  On average they were at least 2 inches in length and hearty sons-a-bitches.  They had girth.  Their size and ability to fly intimidated me so much that I ran away in fear and locked myself in my dad’s bedroom – This was the only place they didn’t go because it was too cold in there.  My dad had an air conditioner set to full blast in his room that ran 364 days a year.  He turned the A/C off for only 1 day a year to let the frost melt off it and to “give it a rest”.  I even ran over to my neighbor’s house (who I had never met) and asked them to please help me get rid of the disgusting bug.  How can a supposed bug be the size of a small bird?!?  And my fear never went away because where there was one there were always more.  It’s like they took turns or something.  They were a slow-moving, deliberate, persistent army.  They would send one soldier out to scavenge; he would be killed and the troop somehow knew of this, and then another meaty replacement would be sent out in his place.  I rarely ever saw 2 roaches in my house at the same time.  This went on for 3 long years!  I felt like these were not ordinary, simple bugs.  These nasties didn’t just accidentally stumble into my house; they came inside with intention.  They intended to be sneaky little scavengers that showed no fear…until they met my dad.  His method for getting rid of pesky roaches was simple:  Kill them with your hand.  I could never watch this.  The idea of it was so disgusting that I couldn’t be in the same room when it happened.  My dad would see the offending cockroach and make steady eye contact with it.  His body language and menacing stare froze the roach in its position.  He told me to get him a paper towel.  I always gave him two or three and he would only take one and tell me to stop wasting paper towels.  He would approach the roach like a tiger – Steady, slow, and without fear.  And when he came close enough to his victim he would quickly snatch up the plump roach with the paper towel and squeeze until the rodent’s greenish-colored blood oozed out.

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Increase Your Energy with Bee Pollen!

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Want a little more energy?  Try adding some bee pollen to your smoothie.  The next time you order a  smoothie from some smoothie joint or juice bar ask them to add bee pollen.   It may be an additional charge and I suggest you pay the .50 cents to $1.00 extra if you’re looking to increase your energy in a healthy way.  Better yet, you can buy a container of bee pollen from the health food store if you’re serious about adding it to your diet.  Look for it in the refrigerated section.  Bee pollen is perishable and has a very natural, fresh yogurt-like smell.  Always store it in an air-tight container or glass jar, and keep it refrigerated otherwise it could get moldy.

I make my own delicious smoothies at home using my Vita-Mix (a blender works, too).  I’ll typically add 1 tablespoon of bee pollen granules to my smoothie mix.  Bee pollen has a sort of sweet, chalky taste and can be somewhat pungent if eaten alone although some describe the taste to be bland or innocuous.  I guess it depends on your taste buds, however, fresh bee pollen should not have a bitter taste.  I suggest adding it to a smoothie or sprinkling it onto salads (it goes well with heartier salads that have couscous, quinoa, or tabbouleh in them).  Bee pollen contains a lot of enzymes, so it should not be heated.

Bee pollen can help increase your energy and your libido.  Keep reading to discover all of bee pollen’s functions, proper dosage and delivery, and safety concerns.  Even if you are allergic to bee stings, you may still be able to take bee pollen.  Refer to the section entitled “Dosage and Delivery.”  Anyone with a suspected sensitivity to bee pollen should consult a nutritionist before taking.

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Functions

  • Accelerates return to normal heart rate after exercise
  • Beneficial for growing children, seniors, rehabilitation after surgery, for those in an emaciated, thin and weakened state
  • Beneficial part of a libido enhancing program for men or women
  • Contains antioxidants
  • Counteracts a number of environmental toxins (two amino acids, L-Cysteine and L-Methionine, that are in bee pollen, contain sulphur.  This stimulates glutathione synthesis, which is our internally produced antioxidant)
  • Decreases catabolic (tearing down) phase during and after physical effort; can work longer without losing lean muscle mass (would also help with fasting or low calorie diets to protect against loss of muscle)
  • Decreases lipid peroxidation.  Cell walls are mainly fat; free radicals can oxidize holes in the cell membranes.
  • Decreases oxidation of LDL – When LDL oxidizes, it forms plaques in blood vessels
  • Decreases the usual side effects of radiotherapy (a dose of 20 grams or about 7/8 oz, 3 times a day was given).  It corrects radiation sickness after massive abdominal x-rays.  Bee pollen prevents the breakdown of body proteins (which then results in increased production of histamines) when x-rays are taken
  • Enhances and strengthens immunity
  • Exposure to radiation therapy is the greatest physical and emotional stressor to the immune system.  Bee pollen has antioxidants that scavenge free radicals caused by radiation treatment
  • Good for low blood sugar or hypoglycemia (with licorice)
  • Good source of easily absorbed protein
  • Has a bio-stimulating effect, especially endocrine glands, liver, kidneys and adrenals; with the endocrine glands functioning better, then you also see better libido and enhanced immunity
  • Has a slight metabolism enhancing effect (when you build lean muscle, metabolism increases)
  • Has anti-inflammatory activity (from quercitin)
  • Helps normalize hematocrit, which is important during pregnancy and for anemia
  • Helps return breathing to normal after exercise
  • Helps stop metastasis of cancer and growth of tumors
  • Helps with inflamed and/or infected prostate, benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH); it is not as good as Saw Palmetto, but can be part of protocol for BPH (in one study, 55% had significant improvement with bee pollen)
  • If you want to diminish your sensitivity to airborne pollens, you must begin using bee pollen 2-3 months before allergy season begins
  • Improves the ascorbate system which is the ability of the adrenals to store Vitamin C and make it available during times of stress
  • In one study, improved kidney/renal panel
  • Increases energy, vitality and endurance
  • Increases red blood cell production
  • Increases white blood cells
  • Moderate liver protection against ethionine, carbon tetrachloride (strongest carcinogen known) and chemical solvents (other substances, like milk thistle, are better)
  • Physical Performance:  Increases rate of recovery.  Improves second and subsequent performances (2 yr study done with hurdlers at Stanford by Dr. Jackson; Bee Pollen was given before and between events)
  • Pollen has a weak anabolic effect – Helps build new tissue; but it does not build muscle mass like creatinine; supports tissue growth and body weight (1-3 lbs); puts on a little bit of lean mass
  • Produces a moderate immuno-regulatory effect
  • Regulates blood proteins which helps with immune response
  • Regulates production of antibodies or immunoglobulins, IgG and IgM; gammaglobulin shots given when someone is exposed to hepatitis – Bee pollen is a weak immunoglobulin enhancer
  • Stimulates interferon production
  • Stimulates the endocrine system
  • Strengthens and protects epithelial tissue in the body
  • Studies were done on hens:  Showed an increase in reproductive ability; increased egg-laying.  It increased levels of hormones.  It can have a positive effect on LH (lutenizing hormone) and estriol estrogen (safest estrogen); also, on various adrenal sterols
  • Tends to regulate blood pressure:  In high amounts, it decreases blood pressure
  • Two studies were done at Stanford University using oral administration of bee pollen.  The results showed a very significant improvement in people with hayfever and asthma.  Why exactly, we are not sure – It could be because it is nutrient dense and energetic.  It is also rich in quercetin, which inhibits the release of histamine and helps to decrease allergic response.  It is the strongest anti-inflammatory and allergy reducing bioflavonoid
    • Hayfever:  There was a 100% improvement in 17.8% of the participants; 75% improvement in 34.25%; and, 50% improvement in 20.5%.  Overall, 73% of the patients averaged 75% improvement
    • Asthma:  Study showed 100% improvement in 1/3 people, 75% improvement in 1/3 of the people and 50% improvement in 11% of the people.  Overall, 78% of the asthma patients averaged 75% improvement
  • Very effective for UTI
  • When taken with meals, it enhances the absorption of other nutrients
  • With radiation treatment, levels of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, RBC’s, WBC’s, and albumin (blood protein) are decreased.  When someone takes bee pollen when undergoing radiation, there is much less depletion of these substances

Sources of Bee Pollen

Imported bee pollen may have more herbicides; may have been grown in industrial areas and must be fumigated before coming into the United States.  Some people react to this fumigation and they would want to use domestic pollen.

Pollen starts with 13% moisture content.  If it is not dried enough and contains too much moisture, you could get mold growth that is not visible.  Larger, commercial companies have equipment that dries the pollen sufficiently.  These companies also have filters that are used to get out the legs of the bees which are sometimes knocked off in the traps.

If you buy fresh pollen from a local source it is probable that the person would not have efficient drying equipment or filters.  This may result in an inferior quality because of the moisture problem.

Some Reputable Companies:  Montana Naturals or Montana Big Sky; Premier One (Neutraceutical); Beehive Botanicals (Linda Graham)

Dosage and Delivery

It is important to only use good quality bee pollen.  Most effective form is granules.

Bee pollen contains a lot of enzymes, so it should not be heated.

It is generally dried before being marketed.

Bee pollen should be stored in a glass container and kept in the refrigerator most of the time.  It can be kept at room temperature for 4-5 days.  The shelf life for pollen that has been dried is 2-3 years.  The shelf life for fresh pollen is questionable depending on how well it was dried and how it is stored.  Fresh pollen should not taste bitter.

Can be taken on a long-term, on-going basis.  You can take bee pollen on an empty stomach or with meals.

(If allergic to bee stings)  Start with 1-3 granules under the tongue 1-3 times a day.  Increase dosage every 3-4 days.  First to 1/32 tsp (about 4 granules), then to 1/16 tsp, then to 1/8 tsp, then to ¼ tsp.  By the time you get to ¼ tsp, you should be taking this dosage 3 times per day.  After getting to ¼ tsp for dosage, then every 3-4 days increase the dosage by ¼ tsp until you are taking 1 TB, 3 times a day.  Most people start noticing an effect when they get to a dose of 1 tsp, 3 times per day.  It will take about 3 months to build up to 1 TB, 2 times per day.

(If not allergic to bee stings) For prevention, start with ¼ tsp of granules 1-3 times a day with food for enhanced absorption or on an empty stomach.  Every 3 to 4 days increase dosage by 1/4 tsp. until you are taking 1 TB, 3 times a day.  Therapeutic amount is 1 heaping tsp or 1 tablespoon 3 times a day.  Gelatin caps are also available and for preventative purposes, the suggested amount is two capsules 3-4 times daily of 450 mg to 580 mg capsules.  A short-term, therapeutic amount of bee pollen is about 3 times the preventative amount.

When you have built up your dosage to 1 TB, most people experience the effect of feeling energized 45 minutes to 1 and ½ hours after taking the bee pollen.

Don’t take at night before bed.  It might keep you awake because of its energizing effect.

Children:  Take the weight of the child and divide it by the normal weight of the same sex parent.  This will give you the percent of the adult dose that the child can take.  For example, a child that weighed 50 lbs with a 150 lbs same sex parent would take 1/3 of the adult dose.

Safety

You need to gradually increase your dosage of bee pollen.  If a person takes too much for them, it may cause nausea and diarrhea.  This is because the RNA in bee pollen can be irritating to the stomach and colon.  G.I. problems would usually be the result of taking an excessive amount of bee pollen.

Breathing problems after taking bee pollen is usually because it is of very poor quality.

For people that have difficulty with concentrated protein including gout and kidney problems (high purines, creatinine, ammonia), you need to cut back on the dosage or take for a shorter period of time.

For older people, start with a smaller dosage.

Even if you are allergic to bee stings, you can still take bee pollen.

If pregnant or lactating, start with very small dose and work up to 1 to 2 tsp, 3 times per day.  Both bee pollen and royal jelly are great for pregnancy if taken in the appropriate dose.  You don’t want to take too much because it could produce a laxative effect and result in diarrhea.

Miscellaneous Notes

There are over 200 active constituents in bee pollen.  It is 20-25% protein and contains all essential amino acids.  It is 8-15% lecithin.  It contains 56 nutrients including quercitin (a bioflavonoid), “B” vitamins, Vitamin E, carotenoids, calcium, magnesium, potassium, selenium, phosphorus and iron.  It is also very rich in RNA.

While bee pollen contains 56 nutrients considered necessary for health, it has been inaccurately marketed as the most complete and perfect food.  It does not contain chlorophyll and some other nutrients.

There are two kinds of pollen.  Airborne pollen is the kind people react to (called anemophile).  The second kind, called entimophile (“friend of the insect”), relates to insects and bees.  It is heavier and stickier than airborne pollen.  Bee pollen is the pollen that bees gather from stamens of flowers.  This is the most “energetic” part of the plant.

Even with a large therapeutic dose, you are not getting that much of each individual nutrient like protein or calcium.  You are taking less quantity of nutrients, but they may be better absorbed because it is a food source substance.  The effect of bee pollen may be from the “symphony” of all nutrients – Or it may be the “energy” and “magic” of this substance that cannot be measured.

Bee pollen is rapidly and easily absorbed from the stomach directly into the bloodstream.  This is called persorption – Absorption through the esophagus and upper G.I. tract before it hits the small intestine.  In one study, dogs were fed milk cream, which they normally digest very slowly.  Bee pollen was added to the milk cream.  They found that the pollen was in the blood stream, cerebrospinal fluid and urine within two hours (4 hr normal for bloodstream; 6-8 hr normal for CS fluid).

Bee pollen was promoted in the 70’s and 80’s for athletes to increase their endurance and performance.

IV administration is even more effective.

It has a bland, innocuous and slightly sweet taste.

Jewelry Inspired by Nature – Meet Takoda Rain!

It is no wonder that the beautiful woman you are looking at is a jewelry maker, hoop dancer, Multidimensional Healer, Reiki Master, body worker, and model.  I would like to introduce you to Takoda Rain.  In her own words she is a “mama bear to a beautiful son, hoop yogini, fire dancer, holistic healer, artist, and free spirit.”

I first met Takoda in nutrition class at the Natural Healing Institute in Encintas, California.  My husband, an amazing photographer, had worked with Takoda on a big photo shoot in the past.  My very good friend, Crystal, raved about Takoda’s hoop dancing and jewelry making abilities.  Then I stumbled upon “Spirit Tribe” – Takoda’s online store that showcases her handmade, one-of-a-kind, nature inspired jewelry and adornments.  I felt like a kid in a candy store!  I bought one of her handmade ear cuffs and chakra earrings to wear at my first festival, Lighting in a Bottle.  Burning Man, Coachella, Bhakti Fest, and any other festival would be perfect for flaunting Spirit Tribe jewelry.  I wear my “chakra” and “purification” earrings all the time as they fit perfectly with my day-to-day style.  I do Reiki energy work for a living and I feel that Takoda’s jewelry represents my lifestyle.

Feathers, leather, amazonite, jasper, and quartz…these are only a handful of the items that she uses in her jewelry creations.

Here are a few pictures of me wearing my ear cuffs and earrings made by Takoda.

What is Spirit Tribe?

“Unique adornments for the goddesses that dance under the stars and howl at the moon.  The free spirits, the barefoot bandits, the fire dancers, the gypsies, the artists, the lovers, the healers, the roots warriors, the wild at heart.  Inspired by the earth, the elements and spirit.  Made with seriously good vibes, high quality material and healing intention.”

What inspires you?

“My inspiration is nature, the elements and spirit.  I get really inspired by nature so I love taking my supplies on camping trips and working in the wild.”

When did you first start making jewelry?

“I started making jewelry when i was in high school, but got really into it after I had my son, River.”

Spirit Tribe was born in 2009.  Takoda’s artistic ideas are brought to life in her adobe home in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Malaria is Like the Flu (kind of)

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In November of 2011 my husband and I flew over to Uganda with Invisible Children.  It was my first trip to Africa.  I got the required Yellow Fever vaccination and inquired about anti-malaria medication.  I was told by several people who had gone over to Uganda many times before that the anti-malaria pills were not necessary and in fact, they could make you feel terribly sick.  I was assured that malaria medication would be cheap and readily available in Uganda should I receive a bite from an infected mosquito.  I’ve never been a huge fan of taking prescription drugs and I didn’t truly understand how prevalent the disease was and is.  The personal testimonies from our experienced colleagues were enough evidence for my husband and I to decide to opt out of taking the preventative drugs.

During our 23 hours of flying time from Los Angeles to London to Uganda I caught my husband’s cold, got a cold sore, and started my period.  Needless to say, I was not feeling my best.  I was so exhausted and dizzy when our plane landed in Entebbe, Uganda.

After 10 days with the Invisible Children crew in Northern Uganda, my husband and I hired a guide to drive us to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest to see the gorillas.  Buhoma is the community that borders the forest and offers village walks to tourists.  Part of the tour included visiting the local medicine man, Alfonse Bifumbo.

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Alfonse was born in the Congo, hence his French name, and moved to Uganda as a young man.  His father was a traditional African healer who had passed on all of his knowledge of plants to his son.  Alfonse has been using herbs to cure people of their ailments and illnesses for decades.  From impotence to malaria to evil curses, Alfonse has an herbal remedy.

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I had never met a ‘medicine man’ before and was intrigued.  One of my biggest passions is studying herbs and preparing herbal concoctions.  I was still experiencing intermittent dizziness and brain fog when we arrived at Alfonse’s house.  I asked Alfonse if he could look at my tongue (like in Chinese medicine) and tell me about my health.  Instead, he looked into my eyes and noticed a greenish tint on my irises.  He said that I was getting malaria.  I wasn’t surprised – I had been bitten by a few mosquitos about a week ago.  He also said that my husband was fine and didn’t have malaria.  I didn’t discount Alfonse’s words, but I knew that I would need some concrete evidence.

A few days later our driver took us back to Kampala.  Our crappy van kicked up huge storms of dust for the 6 hour ride on the bumpy, pothole-ridden, dirt road.  Something was wrong; I usually looked out of the window and the people and the landscape.  I took pictures and had conversations with our driver, but all I wanted to do was just lay down on the backseat and go to sleep.  I had plenty of sleep the night before but I was still incredibly tired.  I slept for most of the 6 hour ride only to get up twice to eat a quick snack.

That evening after our driver had dropped us off in Kampala we reunited with our good friend, Steve, who suggested that I take a malaria blood test.  Testing facilities were not only abundant but also open until 10:00 PM.  The blood test only costed $2.00, so we went.  The lab technician was a young, stunning Ugandan woman with long, micro braids.  Her attitude was confident, comfortable, and bored.  I could see that her job did not challenge her in the least.  She moved through the motions mechanically and probably could’ve done it all with her eyes closed.  Alarm bells started going off in my head when she didn’t put on gloves before drawing my blood.  I asked her about this.  She took offense to my question and asked if I thought she was going to give me something.  I said, “No” but I was thinking “Maybe.”   I shared with her that it was standard practice in the United States to wear gloves for most procedures – especially when drawing blood. She said matter-of-factly that there wasn’t enough money to be equipped with all the necessary supplies.  We were off to a bad start.

10 minutes later she told me that I tested positive for malaria.  What?!?  I didn’t believe her.  In an instant the paranoia button in my brain had been switched to “On”.  I immediately thought that she was lying and that she marked my test positive to get me to buy the malaria pills from their pharmacy; I thought that she and the other employees at the testing center just wanted to scam me.  I wanted to look at my blood smear under the microscope, but she claimed that she had already disposed of it.  I wasn’t satisfied.  I asked to be retested because I wanted to see the parasites with my own eyes.  After much convincing and eventually pleading, she agreed.  At that moment I realized that she was not lying; she had no reason to lie.  She’d performed thousands of these tests before and malaria is as common in Africa as the flu is in the States (that’s what every Ugandan person told me anyway).  Now I was just genuinely interested in seeing what the parasites looked like.  My husband decided to get his blood tested, too.

I’ve taken people’s word for it; I’ve been gullible, naive, trusting, and I’ve been burned.  I’ve learned to be more skeptical and inquisitive, but that night in Kampala my healthy skepticism crossed over into paranoia.  Fortunately, the technician knew how to put my mind at ease.  She showed me a slide under the microscope with a blood sample from a man who had severe malaria.  The parasites were everywhere in his blood.  She then showed me my own blood smear and we had to look very carefully to find the parasites.  They were so small and so sparse that you really had to ‘play investigator’ in order to find them, but alas, they were there.  I was amazed; it was absolutely fascinating!  I wasn’t happy that I had malaria, but I was relieved to know that we had detected it during the early stages.  It’s when the disease goes undiagnosed does it become serious and possibly fatal.  My husband tested negative for malaria.  Alfonse, the medicine man, had been right.

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The technician and I talked for awhile after the test had been completed.  She knew that I didn’t mean to offend her; she saw that I was just scared.  She shared with me that she’d gotten malaria 12 times so far.  She saw how interested I was in her ‘investigative work’ looking for the parasites under the microscope – I doubt that any of her local patients were as interested.  They were used to getting malaria; I was not.  Her attitude shifted and she suddenly became proud of her job.  She went on to share with me that she wanted to move to London to work because she made very little money in Uganda and she, too, wanted to have access to all the latest technology and medical supplies.  She felt like she wasn’t advancing in her current position at that testing center in Kampala.  She had seen my fear and I saw her’s.  What started with judgement and assumptions ended with understanding and compassion.

I purchased the malaria medication, Malanil, for $45.00 and finished taking it before I flew back home to the States.  To be on the safe side and put my mind at ease I got retested at my doctor’s office and the results came back negative.  It’s been 9 months since then.  I’ve taken herbs to detox and strengthen my liver, but I haven’t done an intense parasite cleanse yet.  I think now is the time and, of course, I’ll tell you all about it.

The moral of this story is to take the anti-malaria drugs before and during your stay in Africa.  Talk to your doctor about the specifics.  I will definitely do this next time.  I learned my lesson the hard way and I won’t make the same mistake twice.

What is Nutritional Yeast and Why Should I Eat It?

yeast

What is Nutritional Yeast?

Nutritional yeast, a.k.a. “Good tasting yeast” or “primary grown yeast” is made from a single-celled organism, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, which is grown on a mixture of cane and beet molasses. It is then harvested, washed, pasteurized, and dried to “deactivate” it.  Nutritional Yeast is not the same as brewer’s yeast or Torula yeast, which are by-products of the beer-making process and paper-mill waste (including all the chemical toxins).

Why Should I Eat It?

  1. Vegan protein source; contains up to 50% protein
  2. Low in fat
  3. Gluten-free
  4. Good balance of all the essential amino acids
  5. Rich in B-vitamins, especially niacin (B3) and folic acid (B9)
  6. High in chromium, selenium, zinc, and other minerals
  7. Helps with anemias
  8. Assists in pulling out uranium, lead, DDT, carbon monoxide, nitrates, nitrites
  9. Some people experience an energy boost!
  10. Tastes delicious

Where Can I Find It?

Nutritional yeast flakes can be found in the Bulk department of your local health food store.  It will have it’s own container. Scoop the desired amount of flakes into a plastic bag.  A little goes a long way. This is an inexpensive superfood and runs about $6-$8 a pound in the Bulk section.

How Should I Store It?

At home it is best to store the flakes in an airtight container that is out of direct sunlight and heat.  It can be stored at room temperature and needs to be in a moisture-free area, e.g., I store mine in a stainless steel, airtight container and leave it on the dining table (away from sunlight).  This makes it convenient and also reminds me to eat it with my meals.

What Does It Taste Like?

It has a pleasant, nutty, cheese-like flavor.

How Much Should I Eat?

Start by sprinkling it on meals and gradually increase amount over time, e.g., Begin with ½ tsp and work up 1-3 tbsp per day.  The amount will vary from person to person.

How Do I Eat It?

I love the taste of nutritional yeast so much that I sprinkle it on almost every meal.  I treat it like a cheese substitute.  It tastes great on salads, popcorn, eggs, vegetables, rice, pasta, meat, quinoa, and in soup and stews.  I also like to use it in recipes as a thickening agent.  My sister made a killer gravy using nutritional yeast instead of flour. 

Important Recommendations about Nutritional Yeast

Anyone taking nutritional yeast should also take calcium and magnesium supplementation. Nutritional Yeast contains low amounts of these 2 minerals, therefore they should be supplemented to keep all minerals in balance.  200-300 mg of calcium and magnesium (preferably a higher quality calcium, like a citrate, versus a lower quality, like a carbonate, is optimal) per tablespoon of nutritional yeast.

Because nutritional yeast can cause an energy boost after eating it, I wouldn’t recommend eating it right before bed.  Best if eaten several hours before bedtime; eat it with breakfast and lunch.

Nutritional Yeast Does NOT Cause Yeast Infections

“Nutritional yeast is the extracted contents from dead and deactivated species that cannot be used for leavening or fermenting and certainly cannot infect you. Yeast extracts do not contain any Candida species, which are the most common cause of pathogenic yeast infections in people.”

– Owen Bond

Contraindications

Not recommended for those with renal disorders/failure, and gout.  Too much niacin from nutritional yeast could cause a niacin heat flush which can cause itching on the head and the extremities.  Also could cause further irritability for those who have skin disorders such as psoriasis, eczema, and pruritis.  The nucleic acids in RNA can sometimes cause loose bowels so I wouldn’t advise nutritional yeast for someone who already has loose bowels/diarrhea.

Liver Cleanse (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of my Apple Juice Fast & Liver Cleanse.  Please see Part 1 here:

theherbalninja.com/2012/08/02/my-3-day-apple-juice-fast-part-1/

Let’s continue to Day 4, The Liver Cleanse

Day 4

  • 2 glasses of Trader Joe’s unfiltered, organic apple juice
  • 3 cups of warm water mixed with lemon juice from 1 lemon plus a dash of cayenne
  • 2 glasses of fresh pink grapefruit & fresh lemon juice
  • Vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 + Folic acid combo (1 MicroLingual tablet)
  • Dr. Hulda Clark’s liver cleanse protocol (Epsom salts, extra light tasting olive oil, Black walnut tincture, L-Ornithine powder, and fresh organic pink grapefruit)

Woke up really irritated, impatient, and angry.  I’m not hungry – just pissed.  My husband’s business trip got postponed to next week instead of this week, so he’s been with me this entire time.  My sensitivities are heightened – tastes are stronger; smells are more pungent; my hearing is more acute; I’m feeling very emotionally vulnerable.  My body and mind can put up with a lot.  Equally, they can do without.  I am both a lover and a fighter and right now I feel like being stubborn.  Today I will do an intense liver cleanse.  This is my 4th day fasting.  Honestly, I can’t believe how doable this fast has been.  I almost feel like I need to do a longer fast next time, because the negative feelings are only starting to come out now.  Today will be a day for emotional cleansing, deep breathing, and contemplation.  This fast has proven to be highly beneficial for me.

I will be following Dr. Hulda Clark’s liver cleanse protocol today.  You can find it on the web here:  http://www.drclark.net

Epsom salts are nasty.  I drank my Epsom salt water mixture at 6 PM & 8 PM.  I added 1/4 of a Super Orange Emergen-C packet to each Epsom salt drink to help with the taste.  It didn’t do much but it did help a teeny bit with the aftertaste.  At 9:45 PM I prepared the grapefruit juice/Black walnut/olive oil mixture.  At 10 PM I drank the olive oil mixture with 8 L-Ornithine capsules.  I was so thankful that it didn’t taste bad.  In fact, compared to Epsom salts, it tasted good.  I chased the olive oil concoction down with a few sips of Annie’s Naturals Organic Oil & Vinegar salad dressing.  Dr. Clark’s protocol offered this as an option and although I didn’t need it I did it anyway.  The salad dressing tasted so good!  It made the experience a little more enjoyable.  Because I’ve been having trouble falling asleep this past week I took a few drops of melatonin just to help me fall asleep.  After that I went straight to bed.  I laid down flat on my back and placed my hands over my liver and abdomen.  I kid you not but I actually felt a train of stones traveling through me.  It has got to be the trippiest thing!  I felt them moving for about 20 minutes.

Day 5

Melatonin (even the smallest amount) gives me some intensely emotional dreams and last night was no exception.  I woke up several times throughout the night to check what time it was.  I felt like a kid getting excited for Christmas morning.  At 6 AM I woke up without an alarm (I slept lightly that night).  I felt a little nauseous and the thought of having to drink more Epsom salt water was making it worse.  So I stayed in bed for another 45 minutes.  I got up to use the bathroom and found 2 clumps of tan colored gallstones floating on the water.  They were the size of peas and they were made up of about 15-20 small gallstones all stuck together.  Gross!  And cool!

I forced myself to drink my 3rd Epsom salt water at 7 AM and then again at 9 AM.  I went to the bathroom.  Lo and behold I pooped out the supposed gallstones!  Funny though, because they were bright green in color and looked rather soft and shiny.  They certainly didn’t look like something that had been accumulating in my body over a long period of time.  These things were Ninja Turtle green!  I drove over to my colon hydrotherapist’s office to make it to my 9:30 AM appointment.  Hundreds of ‘gallstones’ flowed out of me during my session after which I felt really fatigued.  I went home to lie down and do some more research about my liver cleanse.

And of course I had to take a picture.

liver cleanse

Something wasn’t right.  As my husband had said, “If it were true then wouldn’t everybody be doing it?”  I dug deeper to find credible articles and testimonials from medical doctors stating that the liver flush/gallbladder flush/liver cleanse was a hoax.  I hadn’t pooped out gallstones – my body had made soap balls!  I was duped and it was my own damn fault.  I took the advice of one colon hydrotherapist and 1 naturopathic doctor.  The extent of my research was researching Dr. Hulda Clark’s website.  Her kidney cleanse, liver cleanse, and parasite cleanse protocols made sense to me so I didn’t question them.  That was my mistake.  I should have done so much more research.  I usually do, but for some reason I hadn’t this time.  This was a very good reminder for me.

Even if I had done a lot more research prior to the liver cleanse I would have still tried it anyway.  There are still some people out there claiming that it helped them.  I have that kind of personality where I like to try a lot of things so that I can speak from personal experience.  Dr. Clark’s liver cleanse isn’t considered extremely risky.  I’m also in good health so my body can handle a lot.  Although, her protocol doesn’t typically produce positive results in young, healthy individuals it has been noted by those same articles that denounced the liver cleanse that there was a possibility, albeit small, that some gallbladder stones could be released and excreted.

At first I was upset because I had believed in something that I thought was true.  Then I got angry at the individuals who are promoting this liver cleanse to anybody and everybody.  That is so irresponsible and gives alternative medicine a bad name.  It’s hard enough working in an industry that is laden with mystics, angels, and fairies.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a lot of the mysticism that can be wrapped around alternative healing, but I am also scientific-minded.  Overall, I am glad I had this experience because there was a lesson that I learned:  Research, research, research!  And look for research from credible sources.  As for the liver cleanse, I would not recommend it to most people based on the fact that one does not release gallstones – your body actually takes the olive oil, grapefruit/lemon juice, and mixes it with some of your digestive juices to make soap.  Squirt some bile on there and you’ve got little green soap balls.

This liver cleanse is still very popular hence the protocols that still exist and are easily available in books and on the web.  I read some stories of people having far less gallstones following a liver cleanse, but that is not enough evidence for me to continue doing this particular cleanse.  The lesson of the day is, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”

My 3-Day Apple Juice Fast (Part 1)

Juice Fast

WARNING:  This post is rife with poop jokes.

I have attempted juice fasts in the past with little success.  I didn’t really want to do them – I just felt that I should do them.  No dice.  I barely lasted a day and I didn’t do anything to prepare for them.  I have never gone more than 1 day without eating…until now.

I prepared for this cleanse 2 weeks ago without evening knowing it.  I started to slowly reduce my carbohydrate intake.  Mostly I chilled out on my white rice, bread, and pasta consumption – I didn’t omit them completely; I just reduced my intake.  The awareness of my carbohydrate consumption was the biggest thing for me.  I was eating a lot of potatoes, rice, pasta, or bread with every meal.  My portions are bigger than the ‘suggested serving size.’  What was really interesting to notice is that my sugar intake was a lot higher than I expected.  I was eating ice cream, cakes, smoothies, and other desserts almost on a daily basis.  I was adding honey or organic sugar to my tea instead of stevia (because I no longer enjoy the taste of stevia).  I was in denial about how much sugar I was actually consuming.  The awareness of what and how much I was actually consuming was huge.  Something needed to be done.

I started eating more meats, veggies, and fruits instead of breads, pastas, and rice.  I started to feel a lot lighter and less bloated.  After 2 weeks I made an appointment for a colon hydrotherapy session.  I was really surprised to see how much crap (literally) came out of me.  It was a rather enjoyable experience.  I had privacy during the entire session and I was able to ‘watch the show’ as it happened.  After it was done I spoke with the therapist about different kinds of cleanses.  She recommended an intense liver cleanse by Dr. Hulda Clark.  She said that she pooped out so many gallstones from that cleanse!  I was totally intrigued and decided right then and there that I would research it.  She also suggested doing a 3 Day apple juice fast prior to the liver cleanse to help clean out the liver, kidneys, and colon.  She was speaking from personal experience and so I took her suggestions into consideration.

I had learned about the apple juice fast when I was taking classes to become a Nutritionist.  I was ready to try it.  A few days prior to starting my fast I drank a lot of fresh beet, carrot, and lemon juice.  I no longer had the desire to eat bigger sized portions.  Occasionally, I would get an intense craving for bread and so I’d simply allow myself to have some and then the craving would go away for several days.

So here we are.  Below is a journal of my experiences during each day of the fast.  If you are interested in doing a fast I would recommend that you speak with a health care professional before doing so.  Every body is different, therefore we all have different needs.  This particular fast is tailored to my individual needs although you may find that certain aspects of my fast will work for you as well.  Listen to your body and be kind to yourself.

Day 1

  • 6 glasses of Trader Joe’s unfiltered, organic apple juice
  • 3 cups of warm water mixed with lemon juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 servings of burdock root tincture mixed in hot water
  • 1 cup of peppermint tea
  • 1 cup of lemon-ginger tea
  • Room temperature water and plain hot water (I didn’t count the number of glasses)
  • Organic women’s multivitamin

That’s it.  Plain, room temperature water can get really boring really quick so opting for hot plain water or water with fresh lemon juice will help keep things interesting.    I kept my appointment to give Reiki to a new client and it was beautiful.  I purposely scheduled it for earlier in the day when I hadn’t started drinking apple juice yet.  The session went smoothly and without interruption.  I got a little hungry at certain times during the day, but it actually wasn’t all that bad – I would just drink a glass of apple juice and the hunger would subside.  The apple juice really cleaned me out by making me poop several times throughout the day.  Not to be gross, but the result was similar to colon hydrotherapy (mostly liquid poop).  I highly recommend having flushable baby wipes available – your tush will be happy that you did.  I journaled outside in the sunshine; today was hot and sunny.  In the late afternoon I started to feel tired so I took a nap – a 3 hour long nap!  My naps are usually pretty long (about 2-2.5 hours) but I haven’t needed one in months.  Also, my circadian sleep cycle has been wacky since I started this blog because most nights I’ll be up until 3 am writing.  I’m so excited that I just can’t sleep!  I allowed myself to take a long nap today and I felt refreshed when I woke up.  I decided to scrub my tub so that I could have the perfect bath.  That little bit of exercise was gentle and got my blood pumping.  I drew a hot, steamy bath with a few cups of epsom salts and decided to take extra good care of my skin by applying a mud mask to my face and neck.  As I soaked in the tub I finished reading “The Tao of Pooh” by Benjamin Hoff (more like “The Tao of Poo” – how ironic and what a crappy joke).  Day 1 has been completed and it wasn’t terrible at all!  It was actually quite nice.

Day 2

  • 5 glasses of Trader Joe’s unfiltered, organic apple juice
  • 2 cups of warm water mixed with lemon juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 servings of burdock root tincture mixed in hot water
  • 1 cup of peppermint tea
  • 1 cup of lemon-ginger tea
  • 8 glasses of room temperature/hot water
  • 1 glass of V8 juice
  • Organic women’s multivitamin
  • Vitamins B12/B6 & Folic acid combo (1 MicroLingual tablet)
  • 1 CleanseMore capsule (to help with constipation)

Last night as I laid in bed trying to go to sleep I thought about what I will want to eat as soon as this fast is over.  I thought about the scrumptious lentil soup from Tin Leaf restaurant.  The hunger pangs hit me hard at bedtime so I did Reiki on my stomach.  It helped a lot.  If you feel like your days are flying by and there just isn’t enough time, then try fasting.  There was nothing quick about yesterday.  I was especially aware of time as I laid in bed trying to sleep – alone with my thoughts.  And it wasn’t even all that bad.  I fell asleep after about an hour.  I woke up remembering the scary dreams that I had but at least I wasn’t hungry.  The nightmares represented a fear that I must soon face:  Living in L.A.

Today I did some light exercise.  I spent an hour walking outside in the full sun.  I walked for 2.5 miles and took a route that led me up a small hill.  I did some squats and push-ups but didn’t overdo it.  Day 2 of my fast is a lot easier than the first day.  The only time that I really felt uncomfortable was when someone was cooking food in my house.  The smell is what drives me nuts.  If you eliminate (or limit) the aroma of food then I promise you it will make your fasting experience so much more enjoyable.  I didn’t have any bowel movements today.  One of the common symptoms of doing a fast is constipation, so right before I go to sleep I will take an herbal supplement that will help.  Fasting has really heightened my awareness and increased my energy.  I drank a glass of V8 juice for the nutrients and salt.  I pooped a lot yesterday and needed to replace my electrolytes.

Bedtime is the worse time.  When it’s just me and my thoughts I really start to think about food.  I thought about eggs scrambled easy, crispy bacon, and english muffins.  Dear God!  I had a really difficult time going to bed.  I turned on my booklight and started reading “The Devil and Miss Prym.”  Good book so far.

I had dreams about focusing on my career, personal independence, and pooping.

Day 3

  • 5 glasses of Trader Joe’s unfiltered, organic apple juice
  • 4 cups of warm water mixed with lemon juice from 1 lemon plus a dash of cayenne
  • 1 serving of burdock root tincture mixed in hot water
  • 2 glasses of room temperature/hot water
  • 1 glass of V8 juice
  • Organic women’s multivitamin
  • Vitamins B12/B6 & Folic acid combo (1 MicroLingual tablet)
  • 1 CleanseMore capsule (to help with constipation)

Woke up and had a bowel movement.  I couldn’t believe that I still had anything in me!  I was amazed.  I have an incredible amount of energy today.  I went out and ran a bunch of errands and picked up everything that I will need for tomorrow’s liver cleanse.  I did a bunch of chores at home.  I feel energized but my head feels a little foggy.  Surprisingly, I’m not really hungry.  Plain water is getting really boring really fast, so I drank more hot water with lemon and spiced it up with a dash of cayenne pepper.  I scheduled a colon hydrotherapy session for Thursday morning.  I did some light chores, paid my bills, and prepared everything for tomorrow’s cleanse.  I had a second bowel movement in the evening.  I’ve made time every day to do some reading and writing.  I’ve also been preparing for the Moksha Festival in Santa Monica this coming weekend.  I’ll be working at the festival on Saturday and Sunday.

I’ve had an epsom salt bath every day of my fast and today’s bath left my muscles extra relaxed.  After I got out of the tub I noticed that my mind was still alert but my muscles were 100% relaxed.  I watched a documentary on sex (not porn) and then went to bed.  I had trouble sleeping again so I read for an hour.   I want to reiterate that bedtime is the worst time for me.  That’s when my stomach begins to rumble and I start thinking about protein.  I’m going to force myself to wake up early tomorrow morning so that I can fall asleep easier the next night.

See “Part 2″ for the 4th day of my fast and the liver cleanse!  This may surprise you..

Fasting Notes:

The first day of the fast was the hardest.

My sexual energy has increased since I started fasting.

You can set yourself up for success by considering a few things:

Create an environment that supports and nurtures your goals.  I made everyone in my house aware of my fast and liver cleanse.  Anytime that someone would cook food I would ask them to turn on a fan to help dispel the aroma.  I would also move away from the kitchen and sometimes go outside for a walk.  To smell good food cooking during a fast is torture.  I did not tempt myself with the delicious smells; I avoided them completely.  I rescheduled all of my appointments and Reiki sessions for after my cleanse.  A low stress, less demanding scheduling creates a healing environment.  If you can schedule your cleanse during a time when you will not have to work, that would be ideal.  Number one, you’re going to be going to the bathroom a lot and number two (pun intended), you’ll want to keep your stress levels at a minimum.  Fasts and cleanses give you a rare opportunity to listen to your body and any craziness going on in your head.  Your ego may get louder and negative feelings may start to bubble up to the surface.  Fasts and cleanses go beyond just feelings of hunger.  They penetrate into your addictions whatever they may be.  I’m using my cleanse as a way of “rebooting myself.”  Like a computer that needs to be rebooted from time to time to start fresh and work more efficiently I want my body to do the same.  If you go on a fast or cleanse and then eat burgers and fries the next day then that’s fine, but I’m using my cleanse as a ‘deep internal organ cleaning’ and as motivation to start eating healthier.

“Part 2″ will be about my liver cleanse experience.  Stay tuned.

 

My ‘Short’ Encounter with the Pygmies of Uganda

Last year my husband and I spent Thanksgiving in Uganda (central Africa).  We made time to see a group of Batwa pygmies.  When I first met them I didn’t even notice how short they were.  They wore big smiles and had even bigger personalities.  They wore modern day clothing with some African flavor and they weren’t afraid of a little color.

The Batwa were evicted from the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest 10 years ago in 2001.  That was when their forest home became a national park to protect the 350 mountain gorillas living there.  Unfortunately, the Batwa were never compensated and they were faced with yet another problem:  They needed to make money.

As a way of earning an income they invite tourists to come watch them in a short performance.  They sing in their native language, Rukiga, and dance as they did when they lived in the forest.  They demonstrate how to make fire using sticks.  They display arts and crafts that they make by hand. Every day they make this temporary shop outside that showcases their handmade woven bowls, carved wooden gorillas, and gorilla drawings done by the children.  Gratuities are also happily accepted.

Dancing with them was a lot of fun and I can see this being the place where freaky deaky dancing originated.  But the best part was walking back to the village with them.  We were their last visitors that day and it was just starting to drizzle.  They packed up all of their wares, and started the trek back into the village.  Everything that they had they carried and the pregnant women were no exception.  Everyone helped.

One girl in particular gave me a lasting memory.  She took my hand and held it like we were old friends.  Her name was Sharon.  She was 12 years old.  She was small for her age and absolutely beautiful.  Her hair was short like a boy’s and her demeanor was gentle and unafraid.  We walked hand in hand all the way back to the village.  We were flanked by corn fields and bright green trees and so our path was narrow, but our hands never separated.  It was a ‘short’ experience but one of my favorites.

 

Life with a Drill Sergeant, Chapter 1 – Ohio

My dad called us about once a week.  During this phone call I told him that Rueben was hitting me.  He asked me to put Rueben on the phone.  Rueben was my mom’s stepfather.  Apparently, my dad threatened to “break him in half” if he ever touched me again.  My dad didn’t even know the worst of it.  He would find out about Uncle Charlie’s treachery 2 years after it happened, however, the information that he had on ‘Stepdad Rueben’ was enough to get him to file for full custody.  My mother agreed.  Shortly after that phone call my dad got on a plane to Hawaii to pick up his daughters.  My little sister and I were so sad to be leaving my mother.  I cried for a long time on the plane.  My dad gave me a box of Milk Duds to cheer me up.  I continued crying as I ate the whole box of chewy chocolates.

(Please refer to my blog post entitled “Long Lost Emotional Candy” to read about my experiences in Hawaii).

When my dad was awarded (oh the irony!) full custody of my little sister and I, we went to live with him in his small, upstairs apartment in Oxford, Ohio.  I was almost 7 and my sister was 3.  My dad was a drill sergeant in the Marine Corps and a single parent.  As we drove towards our new home from the airport my dad made a stop at Toys R Us.  He told us that we could pick out any present that we wanted.  I picked out a special Barbie doll named Danse – she was part of the Jem and The Holograms doll collection.  I picked her out because she had a rainbow of colored stripes in her hair.  Jem and The Holograms was my favorite cartoon at the time because it was all about singing, fashion, and pretty girls with crazy colored hair.

As I sat in the backseat of the car admiring my beautiful, new doll I didn’t realize that my dad was being pulled over.  I didn’t hear the police siren and I’m not sure my dad did either.  The cop had his lights on but my dad wasn’t sure who was being pulled over.  It was us and my dad was pissed.  He was being pulled over for speeding.  He was guilty, but he tried explaining his case anyway.  He told the police officer the truth about picking us up from the airport and being excited to take us to our new home, but he omitted the part about making a pit stop at the toy store.  The cop saw us with our unopened toys and asked him if we made any stops along the way.  My dad wasn’t a good liar and I could tell that the police officer just wanted to be told the whole truth.  That’s it.  I felt like my dad got a ticket for lying.  That whole ordeal seemed to go on for ages and my dad’s patience grew thinner and thinner.  By the time we were back on the road he was boiling mad, shaking his head a lot, and talking angrily to himself.  That wasn’t just ‘road rage’ I witnessed; that was my first preview to the fury that awaited me.

About a week or so after my father picked us up from the airport, I saw a side of my dad that reminded me of why my mother left him.  My sister and I were roughhousing with each other in the living room.  I don’t remember exactly what happened but I do know that my sister’s head came very close to the sharp edge of our coffee table.  My dad saw this and turned into The Hulk.   With both of his hands he grabbed me near the roots of my hair and lifted me high into the air.  He started screaming at me and both my sister and I were scared out of our minds.  He carried me this way into his bedroom and threw me on his bed.  I laid there crying and shivering like a defenseless animal.  I don’t remember feeling any physical pain.  Mainly I was in shock.

Growing up with my father wasn’t completely terrible.  He reminded me of the character in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  One moment he was so loving, generous and affectionate and then, out of no where (it seemed like ‘nowhere’ at the time) he was an enraged lunatic.  I once believed that I went from a horrible situation in Hawaii to a far worse one living with my father, but that no longer is the case.  I learned a hell of a lot from my dad and I know that he did his best.  Unfortunately, he never learned how to deal with his anger in a healthy way and he took out his aggression on those who were closest to him.  He was a child once, too, and his environment and upbringing influenced how he dealt with his emotions.  He was 22 years old when I was born and wasn’t prepared for the great responsibility that came with raising 2 little girls on his own.  I can’t even imagine what it would be like to raise 2 children on my own without any parenting skills while earning very little pay from a high-stress job.  I learned a lot about my father’s deep-seated pain and suffering.

Good days usually involved watching my favorite cartoons.  My dad let us watch a lot of TV and it was awesome.  He would sometimes watch our favorite shows with us, which was even more awesome, because he was spending time with us.  Our Barbie collection grew quickly as my dad “spoiled us rotten” (as he would always say).  My little sister and I would get all of our Barbies, their clothes and accessories, and, of course, the Barbie convertible and we would set up an area to play in front of the TV.  We’d watch Fat Albert, Nickelodeon, Alvin and The Chipmunks, He-Man and She-Ra, and GI Joe.  My dad always made sure that we had a box of Jello Pudding Pops in the freezer for all of us.  My favorite was the chocolate-vanilla swirl.  Cartoons, Barbies, and pudding pops….that was my bliss.

My dad didn’t cook much, but he did know how to use a crock-pot.  He would throw in a couple of cans of Campbell’s Cream of Celery and Cream of Mushroom, some broccoli florets, and big chunks of beef.  He would let it simmer for hours and I would ask him often, “Is it ready yet?”  And, oh my god, it was worth the wait.  When he finally dished us up a bowl, the meat was so tender that it would fall apart on your fork.  I ate mine with a spoon because the soup was my favorite part.  My dad showed us how to sop up the soup with a slice of Wonder Bread.  We would eat our meals together in front of the TV – my dad in his recliner and my little sister and I at our table (a small, round,  kid-sized table with a top made of particle board).  Our Barbies sat beside us and waited for us to play with them again.  Those were such good days.

Crock-pot stew was kind of a big deal because it happened infrequently.  Most of our meals were TV dinners, hot breakfast sandwiches from Arby’s, sugary cereal with marshmallows, KFC Extra Crispy chicken, and my favorite…pudding pops.  It’s no wonder why my dad often called my sister and I his “little puddins.”  My dad rarely cooked because he didn’t know how (with the exception of crock-pot stew, of course).  We ate out often.  My dad was a huge fan of all-you-can-eat buffets so he’d take us to Ponderosa or Sizzler.  “There goes the Bottomless Pit,” my dad would say as I made my way back to the buffet for my fifth helping.  I was embarrassed about eating so much, but I was genuinely hungry.  I expended a lot of energy chasing boys around the playground.  Seriously though, I ran a lot.  My dad was a runner and it was in my blood.  I was also hyperactive from the amount of sugar I consumed.  Both of my parents were physically fit for most of their lives, so I had good genetics on my side in that respect.  Without realizing it, I balanced out my sugar and processed foods intake by running a lot and eating ungodly amounts of meats and vegetables.  Also, I rarely ate any dairy products because I didn’t like the taste.  My dad was just happy that we ate a lot.  He was proud of the amount of food I could devour considering I was small and bony.

My dad jogged a lot back then – 3 times a day.  When he went out for a run he would leave my sister and I at home by ourselves.  We were so consumed with playing with our Barbies that it didn’t concern us that he was gone.  30 minutes later he’d return and do his push-ups and sit-ups outside the apartment complex.  These were the times when I left the “Barbie land” and explored other areas of the house.  I found a dusty ABBA cassette tape that my father denied was his.  I would listen to it from my tiny cassette player, and sing along while dancing around the house.  In those moments I felt like a “Dancing Queen.”  I was too scared to dance like that in front of my dad or anyone else.  The pain from Hawaii was stored in my hips and I did whatever I needed to do to hide it.  That combined with a drill sergeant for a father resulted in a little girl who was somewhat stiff and rigid in her body and mind.

My father would wake us up ridiculously early so that my sister and I could take our bath, get breakfast, and go to daycare.  He was so tender with us during those early morning hours.  He would lift us up carefully from our bunk beds (I had the top bunk) and place us on our big comfy sofa in the living room.  We had one of those classic sofas from the 80’s – It had a dark brown, burnt orange, and cream-colored flowers print and felt like velvet.  With our heads still snuggled in our blankets he would turn on the TV at a low volume.  I would hear the Scooby-Doo music playing and my eyes would start to open.  Once we were both awake my sister and I would take a bath together.  I would wash my entire body from head to toe (and in between my toes) with a bar of Irish Spring soap.  I used to scrub incessantly at my skin until I created a thick layer of foamy soap all over my body.  I did this during every bath and I would spend a minimum of 45 minutes in the tub while my sister would play with her Barbies.  My dad would try to comb my long, impossibly thick, black hair with a men’s grooming brush.  That didn’t even come close to working.  On top of that I would often fall asleep with my chewing gum still in my mouth and the next morning I would find it stuck in my hair.  After this happened a few times my dad really started to get annoyed.  He had to cut a lock of my hair with a pair of scissors just to remove the gum.  I made a valiant effort to spit out my gum before bed but sometimes I’d still get a bright green gob of gum in my hair the next morning.  I was convinced that it was no longer my fault and that the gum was coming from our shampoo bottle.  I really believed it and I was so convincing that my dad stopped buying that brand of shampoo (sorry Pert Plus).  A huge nappy mess of hair grew at the back of my head until my dad would take me to the hair salon to get my hair properly combed and cut.  He took me to the same woman every time.  She was young, pretty, and very hip.  She would patiently and gently comb out my ‘rat’s nest’ until my hair looked and felt like black silk.  My dad was convinced that she liked him, but he thought every woman liked him.  He liked to ham things up.

I was a perfectionist and my father saw that as a good thing.  A little bit of perfectionism can be useful, but more often than not, it is to our detriment.  I strived to make straight A’s in school and was disappointed year after year for only getting A’s and B’s.  I engrossed myself in music and learned to mimic the pitch, rhythm, and sound of every song I heard on the radio.  I did not want to explore my own singing style – I wanted to sound exactly like the singers on the radio.  I began obsessing over my physical appearance to where it became a top priority in my life.  These compulsions would continue growing deeper and stronger all the way up until my late 20’s.  I believe that my environment and upbringing played equal parts in contributing to my neurosis.

The good news is that I am now aware of these learned behaviors and I am making a conscious effort to either alter them or eradicate them from my life completely so that I can bring myself  back into balance.  I’ve made a lot of progress, but I still have a long way to go.

In the next chapter I explore my social adaptability at school and day care in Ohio.  My father accidentally finds out about what really took place in Hawaii.  I discover more about my fears and desires through gymnastics, tap dance, and moving to a new country.

Herb Review: Bee Propolis

Are you interested in taking Bee Propolis?  It’s available in multiple delivery forms and can be found at your local health food store.  What is it good for?  How much of it should I take?  Are there any safety concerns with taking Bee Propolis?  Keep reading to find out..

Bee Propolis

Functions:

  • 50% inhibition of superoxide (least prevalent free radical in the body, but the most dangerous)
  • Accelerates rate of healing of burns (stronger antimicrobial than aloe or aloe with lavender)
  • Analgesic, mild anesthetic
  • Anti-allergy
  • Antibacterial (flavonoids inhibit the growth of bacteria including staph. aureaus, which is the most pernicious bacteria that is resistant to tetracycline and erythromycin, but not to propolis).  Bacteria do NOT become resistant to propolis.
  • Antibiotic that helps fight disease reactions within the body
  • Anti-cancer (caffeic acid esters, phenols)
  • Antifungal
  • Anti-inflammatory, both internally and externally (from Quercetin)
  • Antimicrobial
  • Antiseptic, disinfectant
  • Anti-tumor effect (caffeic acid esters)
  • Antiviral
  • Astringent, moderately strong styptic
  • Benefits cracked nipples
  • Benefits malignant skin tumors
  • Benefits subcutaneous cysts
  • Can be part of a natural mouthwash because of its antibacterial qualities
  • Can be used after tooth extraction to help healing
  • Causes slight decrease in blood pressure (not that effective for HBP or heart disease)
  • Causes slight increase in blood protein from which antibodies are made
  • Cytotoxic – Kills cancer cells directly
  • Effective with Trichomonas vaginalis
  • Endocrine enhancing or stimulating for the liver, kidney, and spleen
  • Enhances effect of other drugs used in treating pharyngitis
  • Has a synergistic and enhancing effect when combined with common antibiotics like streptomycin and tetracycline (it does not enhance the effects of chemotherapy agents)
  • Has been used for the thyroid gland (Siberian ginseng is better)
  • Helps alleviate side effects of various vaccines
  • Helps control runaway cell breakdown, a condition symptomatic of cancer
  • Helps fight tuberculosis
  • Helps prevent metastases
  • Helps stop bleeding
  • Helps with fungal sinusitis caused by candida
  • Increases various components of white blood cells – phagocytes, leukocytes
  • Indicated for hayfever – Need a large dose of 7-8 times per day (bee pollen is better)
  • Indicated for joint disorders (can combine with other anti-inflammatories), candida albicans (not solely, but most important – use with oregano), vaginal inflammation (use tampons containing propolis; raw propolis can also be shaped into a cone), colds, flu (use propolis at first sign of infection), skin ulcers, psoriasis (study: 1/3 patients benefited from bee propolis), Herpes I (cold sores), UTI, thrush, oral candida, yeast infections (inhibited 60 strains of yeast that were tested)
  • Inhibits growth of resistant gram positive and gram negative bacteria
  • Kills gingival bacteria – Helps to prevent gingivitis and plaque
  • Not subject of research yet, but probably effective for anthrax
  • Nutritive – Contains minerals and trace elements
  • Over 75% inhibition of OH (a very prevalent free radical in the body, but much less dangerous that SO)
  • Pretty good for hemorrhoids (use a salve form of propolis; horse chestnut seed extract is better)
  • Raises body’s resistance to infections; stimulates immune factors
  • Reduces itching and pain
  • Slightly aids cell regeneration over wounds
  • Stimulates interferon production (natural protein substance that combats many diseases)
  • Strengthens the thymus gland (makes white blood cells called T4 cells) because of the phenol esters
  • Strong scavenging action against oxygen radicals generated by exposure to chemicals
  • Strongest remedy for radioepithelitis
  • Superstar for throat infections:  Pharyngitis, tonsillitis, laryngitis
  • Therapeutic for chronic exacerbated pharyngitis; acute, exacerbated glotitis (study: benefited 90% of 260 patients with various types of pharyngitis)
  • Tones, heals, and strengthens epithelial tissue
  • Use externally for cuts
  • Use for fungal infections, including Athlete’s foot – Taken both internally and externally; bee propolis is more effective for Athlete’s foot than goldenseal at a fraction of the cost
  • Use for infections throughout the body, including all skin infections
  • Use for radiation burns (applied externally and taken internally; especially good when combined with aloe vera)
  • Use for salmonellosis:  Inhibits free radical oxidation of lipids due to salmonella (dosage of 1 ½ dropperfuls initially; then, 1 dropperful every 3 hours)
  • Use for ulcers – 1 of 4 favorites for both gastric and duodenal ulcers (use aloe vera, slippery elm, and licorice, 90% of 108 patients healed with bee propolis)
  • Very good antioxidant because of phenol compounds – Protects against toxins

Dosage and Delivery:

Bee Propolis is available in different forms including lozenges, tinctures, gel caps, and oral sprays; also may be added to an herbal salve.

Use propolis as a whole substance, not as a fraction, i.e. one active ingredient.  Maximize benefits by taking on an empty stomach.

Propolis tinctures are 60-80% alcohol in order to extract the active ingredients (because it is very resinous).

Tincture:  For acute problems, use 1 ½ dropperfuls initially, diluted in room temperature or slightly warm water; then 1 dropperful every 4 hours for a total of 4 (up to 5 maximum) doses per day.  The tincture in water will turn cloudy, then yellow to brown.  Can also apply the tincture externally.  Bee propolis will stain the skin yellow-brown but this will gradually wash off.

Gelatin Capsules:  500 mg – Take 3 caps, 3 times per day or 4 caps, 2 times per day

Lozenge:  Chewable lozenge often combined with zinc gluconate (can take too much zinc if taken long term).  Sugar-free is best, but clients may complain of taste.

Throat Spray:  Use 2-3 times more what the manufacturer suggests.  Most throat sprays are fairly weak.  Not the best delivery form.

For an acute problem, take 1-2 days beyond absence of symptoms.  For a chronic problem, take 1 week beyond absence of symptoms.

Safety:

Low toxicity

Occasional contact dermatitis or oral inflammation

Use propolis from United States (propolis from Europe may contain lead)

When using for a sore, irritated, inflamed or strep throat, do not use a tincture without diluting (alcohol will irritate).  It would be better to use capsules (break apart so that the powder contacts throat area) or chew on raw bee propolis.

When using a tincture for burns, evaporate the alcohol before applying.

When using a tincture when candida is present, the alcohol must be evaporated because people with candida do not tolerate alcohol very well.

May also kill healthy yeast (Saccharomyces).  Take a good probiotic to protect good intestinal bacteria while taking bee propolis and for 7 days after its use.

Bee propolis is not beneficial to use during chemotherapy.  It can inhibit or decrease efficacy of chemotherapy/cancer killing therapies, because propolis is such a strong antioxidant, which aims to preserve the integrity of tissues.

When there is a long history of allergies or skin rashes, use with caution.

Stains the teeth (use chamomile to lighten color of teeth) and skin (like iodine) temporarily.

There is some concern with long term use because of the effect of resins on the kidneys – Be sure to use high quality bee propolis.

Miscellaneous Notes:

Primary Constituents

Rich concentration of bioflavonoids, including quercetin.

Contains calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, zinc, manganese, cobalt, and silica.

Phenols, waxes, resins

Caffeic acid esters, which are very volatile compounds that are absorbed very easily and tend to be water-soluble (anti-cancer, anti-tumor, slows or stops growth of cancer cells; anti-viral, anti-allergy; kidney, liver, and spleen stimulating)

Tones, heals, and strengthens epithelial tissue, which lines ducts, cavities, organs, and glands.  It is one of the two strongest substances for inflammation or irritation of epithelial tissue (the other is carotene).  This tissue is your first line of inner defense.  Epithelial tissue is involved in all infections, inflammations and immunological problems due to internal and external harmful agents.

All bee products can be taken together or in any combination (bee pollen, royal jelly, propolis).

Probiotics:  Always use refrigerated product.  It should have at least 1 million CFU’s (colony forming units).  Take probiotic with 1 to 2 oz. of milk or yogurt.  The lactose found in dairy is food for the bacteria.