Archive for December, 2007

Delicious Tree Bark … Slippery Elm

Slippery Elm
Ulmus fulva
Thanks to another healer friend of mine, I have discovered the wonderful and delicious slippery elm. I’m not sure why I think it’s delicious – it certainly doesn’t lend itself to much culinary creativity – but the healing properties of this herb are amazing.
A few days ago I purchased said herb in powder form and have been making tea from it a few times a day, between meals. It has the interesting property, like flax, of becoming muciligenious (sp?) – mucus-like and um, slippery – when heated in water and has a distinctive nutty-sweet-earthy flavor. Its main property? To coat, soothe, and heal the GI tract, reducing many symptoms of IBS and colits. Because of it’s soothing properties, it’s also used for burns, ulcers, sore throats and respiratory ailments, among other things.
Apparently, Native Americans used to use it as a ‘survival herb’ … not sure what that means, but it makes my tummy feel happy and full and calm, for which I am very grateful :).

This same friend offered me some very good advice and insights and at his reccomendation, I have restarted enzymatic therapy more dilligently and increasing my raw intake again. What I found most interesting is that he mentioned that the gallbladder is the seat of your personal will. I had mine removed when I was 16 and have had digestive problems ever since due to the bile imbalance (something I didn’t know much about until about six months ago, and am still learning)… from that he accurately predicted that I also struggle to find my voice and assert my will in my own life. Amazing how everything is so interconnected like that.


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Naturopathic Medicine II

I’ve noticed a lot of people have been reading my first post on Naturopathic Medicine, so I am posting an update of my progress so far working with a N.D. on my Ulcerative Colitis. I am also going to post a page with some background about my seven year journey, including alternative therapies, with U.C. for people who are looking for support.
I had a phone follow-up call with the N.D. a few days ago after about 5 weeks on the regimen that we specified (see previous post). So far the results have been good, in conjunction with the pharmadrugs. I am finally tapering off of the Predisone, down to 35mg/day from 50mg. I will be off it by mid-February. My colon has calmed down a lot, though not to the “one or two” bowel movements per day that both my dr’s are hoping for.
The tumeric and herbal blend (marshmallow, slippery elm, etc) that I have been taking twice a day is part of a long range plan with stages for the healing and restoration. I will keep taking these for two more months before going on to another blend (not sure what that is).
My diet is almost back to normal – meaning, a high-fiber plant-based diet. I have to watch the fiber though, make sure it’s enough soluable. I’ve stopped eating the cheese and few eggs that I had been for a few weeks – a recommitted vegan – after reading the first 100 pages of The World Peace Diet and being reminded of the horrible pain and suffering involved with producing those ‘foods.’
Interestingly, I have found now that if I am going to eat a lot of fruit or veggies, it’s better to eat them raw with the enzymes intact – then I have much less bloating and unconfortability. When I told that to the N.D., she suggested that I go back to using digestive enzymes only when I have a big cooked meal. I am still taking UltraFlora (probiotics), Iron Extra, and at least 3,000mg of Flax Oil a day. Eating it as just oil wasn’t working so well for me, so I take caplets, but I also eat oil and flax meal pretty much everyday. You can never get enough of that stuff! The N.D. says that eventually the omega-3 rich flax oil is what is going to act as the anti-inflammatory after I am off the predisone.
The goal is not, obviously, to be on a lot of supplements. Right now they are really supportive for the healing process. I’ve gained some weight (about 10 lbs.), either from the predisone or from actually being able to digest food, or both. Either way, I am feeling a lot better and my energy is up despite the drug-induced insomnia (sleeping about 5 hours a night). Unfortunately, I had picked up drinking small amounts of coffee throughout the day to combat my sleepiness (and b/c I like the taste and live with a coffee snob) but now at my N.D.’s suggestion am switching to green tea and yerba mate, both of which have some benefits for UC.
I’ll leave you with this thought: Health is a function of your participation. Participation in life, in your healing, in anything. You have to engage. The energy you put in is what feeds you life. I have been on a crazy roller coaster of participation, throwing myself back into multiple projects and socializing a lot since coming out of ‘hiding’ (translation: hospital) and that has been a large part of my healing.
I realize this may be striking for many who think they need to ‘conserve’ their energy in order for their body to heal, but that is a stingy attitude (a conversation coming from scarcity) that will probably leave you always feeling tired and unsatisfied … If you want an abundance of health and vitality, YOU have to generate it and put it out there. [While being responsible for it and taking care of yourself.]

Also: The second Tuesday in February, I will be giving a talk to a local (Utica, NY) wellness group about healing and living with colitis naturally. Just a little background (more to be up on a page soon), some of the ‘alternative’ therapies that I have benefitted from that I will discuss include yoga, acupunture, BIOSET, reiki, diet and cleansing, enzyme therapy, homeopathy, raw food and juicing, colon hydrotherapy and herbal enemas.

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I just have to put a link to this redonkulous website found via Admittedly, I laughed pretty hard at the images at first but . . .
I mean, really, wigs for cats? The photos are fabulous and these domesticated felines don’t seem to mind the attention, but please, DON’T buy one for you cat, even if part of the proceeds go the ASPCA.
Worth the laugh though.

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More good news

This just to mention that Morningstar Farms (a subsidiary of Kellogg), which makes a lot of vegetarian convenience foods has agreed, at the effect of a campaign from Vegan Outreach and Compassion Over Killing, to introduce more vegan products and reduce their use of eggs by at leat one million! That means roughly 4,000 hens will be spared a life of cruelty in battery cages. Congrats go to these two grassroots orgs, and if you feel so inclined, please contact Morningstar Farms and thank them: 1-800-962-1413 (press 9).

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2007 Victories for Animals

I just watched this slideshow put together by the Humane Society USA showing some of the victories for non-human animals this year. It’s been a great one, and other changes are happening alongside the work that HSUS does.
From the Vick case, which lead to banning of animal fighting in the last few states it was allowed, to shutting down the last three horse slaughter farms in the US, and stricter laws on animal welfare from restaurants and animal testing … are small gains. People’s awareness is rising, but I hope we don’t get bogged down thinking that improved welfare standards are still OK “as long as the animals don’t suffer too much” when really the point is that animals are not ours to use, period.
Activists in NYC are making this point loud and clear, right now fighting hard to ban the horse-carriage tourist industry in that city. The point is not that the horses have better conditions, as those in favor of keeping the industry going argue for, the point is that they are being used for entertainment and put in dangerous and unnatural situations in the city.
Link to sign the petition of the Coalition to Ban Horse Drawn Carriages

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Politicians who don’t like their vegetables

I found this little article pretty interesting in light of what I’ve been reading in The Sexual Politics of Meat: a Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory, by Carol Adams . . . regarding the history of meat as a symbol of patriarchy and vegetables as a metaphor for ‘feminine passivity’.

(AP) John Edwards has to be a mighty hungry man before he’ll touch that mushroom on his plate. Mitt Romney says he’s never met an eggplant he’d eat.

Presidential candidates do not seem to be fussy eaters for the most part. Yet they have distinct dislikes, mostly from the veggie kingdom.

Read more here.

I don’t think I need to point out that for men to eschew eating meat is still considered emasculating (remember that commercial about the wimpy tofu-eating boy?). Mostly, as Adams points out, this is tied to economics and distribution of animal-food resources: when that distribution is controlled by men there is more relative dominance on the part of men. Vegetables/plant foods, on the other hand, are often classified as ‘women’s food’ and Adams provides a lot of examples of this – from 1950s era American cookbooks to certain tribal societies to the 1988 Presidential Campain where practically all the (male) candidates were compared to vegetables- arguing that “Colloquilly [vegetable] is a synonym for a person severly brain-damaged or in a coma” and is used to express distain, criticism, and weakeness and passivity. Meat, on the other hand, equals action, strength, dominance and macho-ness – and “men who choose not to eat meat repudiate one of their masculine privileges.”

So it’s not really a surprise that Mitt Romney or Barack Obama wouldn’t wan’t to seem like a sissy. Interestingly, they didn’t ask Kucinich, who is a vegan, but we all knew he’s about as weak on principle as a fresh zuchinni … and what about H. Clinton’s response? “I don’t like the things that are still alive.” How vague is that ? and as is typical, Clinton has to appear middle of the road, non-threatening and not too masculine or feminine.
The candidates answers are perfectly crafted in response to the public perception and institutionalized ideas about what our food represents -patriarchy.

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Independent Primary? is hosting a, well, Independent Primary, online to guage what Americans really think. Go to their website and cast your vote, it only takes a second. Supposedly this poll will be watched by national media prior to the actual first primary, in NH in January.
This is probably one of the less ‘scientific’ methods of assessment of political climate, but it’s also an interesting comment on the role of grassroots/netroots activism for this next election. Taking into account the demographic of people who might be inclined to use this (i.e. people with access to the Internet and an interest in politics period), you would expect to see the results slightly biased toward progressive candidates (for example, I recieved word of the poll through the Dennis Kucinich campaign) – an obvious attempt to plug such candidates and show that there is a large contingent of support for them prior to the NH Primary, even if that show of support is limited to tech literate, middle class people who would dare to think their opinion matters for something in a democracy (I’m making fun of myself here).
It’s a nice attempt at reclaiming democracy for the people, and I support it πŸ™‚
Whether or not it makes any difference, we shall see . . .

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