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Editor:
© Kat Morgenstern
December 2006

Vol.V Issue: 4

This Issue:

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Solstice GreetingsPhew - I made it! The last issue of 2006, ready just in time for the Winter Solstice, how about that? I hope you have all been enjoying this pre-solstice/Christmas time! In my corner of the woods it has been incredibly mild and unseasonally warm, with many beautiful days and hardly a visit from Father Frost, which is nice in a way, but also a worry - and from what I have seen, our weather is not the only freak. Amazingly, plenty of 'Doubting Thomases' are still in deep denial - what will it take for them to acknowledge that Climate Change is happening now? Maybe Bananas growing at the northpole...

Anyway, it has been a very busy autumn here at Sacred Earth, with the launch of our sister site at http://www.sacredearth-travel.com. Yes, that's right, our eco-travel pages have finally received equal footing with their very own domain and newsletter, called 'Rambles and Ambles', which shall appear sporadically every couple of months or so to keep you up to date with Eco-travel news and happenings at our eco-travel partners enterprises, travel and destination news. Please take a look at our new site, and if you like it, please subscribe to Rambles and Ambles by sending an e-mail to ramblesandambles-subscribe at yahoogroups.com.

Once I have recovered from all the busy-ness of the past few months I am planning on giving the Sacred Earth Ethnobotany Website a similar facelift, but for the moment I am just going to enjoy a little quiet break in the woods, with only a passing glance at my computer...and toasting with a glass of spiced wine (here abouts known as 'Glugg') to all my Cyberfriends, thanking you all for your loyalty and continued support!

Happy Solstice - may the light dispel the darkness and bring you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2007

© Kat Morgenstern, December 2006

Please send your feedback to: kmorgenstern@sacredearth.com

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Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Rosemary is a familiar culinary herb of the semi-arid costal Mediterranean climate zone. Those who are not lucky enough to live within this climatically favoured region will have to either grow their own in pots that can be over-wintered indoors, or forage for it at the local grocery store. In the coastal belt around the Mediterranean Sea it is a common herb. In fact, its very name refers to its fondness of the sea - 'rosmarinus' means 'Dew of the Sea', indicating that this herb likes to be 'kissed' by the salty mist coming in from the sea - even though it is not exactly an herb of the shore. In the wild it never grows too far away. Some, however, feel that the name is perhaps an allusion to the light blue flowers which on a bush covered in them have take the appearance of the sea foam on the crest of a wave.

The reason I talk about it here in the winter issue, is because it is one of the earliest flowering herbs and the wild coastal garrigue hillsides will soon burst into a fragrant lilac blush of rosemary flowers in January - much to the delight of sleepy bees looking for fresh nourishment. And hence soon there will also be aromatic Rosemary honey to be found at local markets - a highly prized regional speciality.

However, unless you are a bee, Rosemary does not provide a whole lot of nourishment. Yet, it is a welcome foraging crop for home made herb mixtures such as Herbes de Provençe', or to flavour the easter lamb roast.

rosemarybush (41K)Rosemary is rich in essential oils, which are obtained from the needle-like leaves rather than the flowers. The essential oil is the main source of its medicinal powers. Rosemary stimulates the circulation, particularly to the head, which is why it is traditionally associated with memory and hence remembrance, friendship and love, even though its scent is rather pungent and anything but lovely. Rosemary also possess some bitter substances that aid digestion. It 'warms' the stomach and stimulates liver and gallbladder, thus explaining its use for flavouring greasy meats. The bitters help to break down the fats and thus aid the digestive process.

Rosemary was one of the earliest herbs to have been used as incense - particularly in combination with Juniper berries, a tradition that has continued into modern times. It is still commonly used as an antiseptic incense to fumigate sick rooms or as purifying aromatic sauna or bath herb. Traditionally herbalists made a hair rinse or shampoo with it to stimulate hair growth and it has always had its place in the still room where its essence was added to skin tonics, lotions and oils. The humble Rosemary is a versatile herb that ought to be remembered!

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Rosemary Hair Rinse

The simplest way to let your hair benefit from the tonic power of Rosemary is to simply make a strong infusion of 1 tablespoon of dried rosemary leaves to ½ liter of water - infuse with boiling water and steep until cold or cool, strain and massage into the scalp. Leave it for a few minutes, then rinse it out.It is best when prepared fresh, but it will keep a few days in the fridge.

Rosemary Shampoo

Unscented shampoo bases are readily available at many stores these days. Get one you like and add a few drops of Rosemary Essential Oil to it.

Rosemary stimulates hair growth and tonifies the scalp. However, it is more recommended for brown or dark hair as it naturally darkens hair over time.

Vinegar of the 4 thieves

This concoction is an extremely powerful and potent antibacterial and antiviral. It is not for taking internally, but if you want to protect yourself against and free-floating bugs it is handy to have around for wipes, to rub your hands and face with it and to sniff it occasionally. The remedy originates in the 17th century when the plague ravaged France. The four infamous thieves somehow found the recipe and managed to protect themselves against the plague, even as they were robbing the dead and dying. When they were caught the prosecuters spared their lives on condition that they had to reveal their secret formula.

The original formula for the Four Thieves Vinegar is found in The Practice Of Aromatherapy by Jean Valnet, a physician who has devoted his life to the study of herbs and essential oils for therapeutic use and is credited for the modern term 'aromatherapy'. It appears in his writings as follows:

Vinegar of the Four Thieves

Steep the herbs in the vinegar for 10 days. Strain through a sieve. Add camphor, then filter. Rub on face and hands and burn in room. Additionally, keep in small bottles for the vapors to be sniffed. Avoid contact with eyes. From http://waywardwaif.typepad.com/waywardwaif/2005/11/avian_flu_virus.html

Cooking with Rosemary

Rosemary goes great with roasts - both vegetable and meats. Whether you are roasting a goose or lamb chops, or a pan full of root vegetables, a spring of rosemary transforms the dish and adds a delightful, herbal aromatic flavour.

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Remember:

That all the earth is fragile and that we must not take from her beyond what she can sustain. Overharvesting, particularly due to commercial collection of medicinal plants has brought many once plentiful plant species to the brink of extinction. As 'plant people', we should adopt an attitude of green guardianship for mother earth, who so plentifully provides for us.

Here are the rules that every forager should live and breathe by:

Get to know the plants that grow around you on a personal, first name basis: familiarize yourself with the herbs, bushes and trees in your neighborhood, try to learn as much as possible about the ecosystem of which you are a part and the plant members of your 'extended family'. Learn to identify them correctly and investigate all their uses. Try to understand it as part of a larger ecosystem. Which animals like it or dislike it? With which other plants does it form communities? Is it native or invasive? Does it protect the ground or deplete it of any of its nutrients? How does it 'fit' into its environment? What can you learn from its chemistry? Building this kind of holistic knowledge base will give you a much deeper insight into the nature of a plant and its role within the ecosystem. Its a lengthy process, but vital if you want to truly get to know your plant friends and the habitat you share.

It is especially important that you learn to identify the poisonous plants you are likely to encounter, lest they inadvertantly end up on your dinner plate, which could be most unpleasant or in the worst case scenario, even lethal. The importance of this point is completely obvious, but cannot be stressed enough. Some people hold the false and dangerous belief that what can be found in nature cannot harm them. DO NOT EAT ANYTHING YOU CANNOT POSITIVELY IDENTIFY AND DEEM SAFE. When you think you know a plant, think again and see what other, non-edible look-alikes might be fooling you. This is even more important when it comes to collecting mushrooms, as there are many poisonous mushrooms out there that have evolved to be masters at deceiving unsuspecting mushroom hunters. There are also many more potentially deadly mushrooms with edible look-alikes than there are deadly plants with edible look-alikes.

Don't be greedy!

Familiarize yourself with the plants that are listed on the endangered species list for your area. Apart from being unethical, it is also highly illegal to pick endangered plant species. Instead of taking rare plants, consider sowing their seeds in the wild.

Only pick as much as you need and never take ALL the plants of any one kind in a given patch. After harvesting an area give the plants plenty of time to recover before returning to the same patch. Be especially conscienscious when it comes to harvesting roots and barks. Remember that often harvesting roots means the death of the plant, so before you start digging ask yourself if this plant is really plentiful and if it can sustain a harvest of its roots. If in doubt, don't collect. Consider growing some in your garden rather than depleting natural stands. Collecting barks can also be fatal to a tree. If you must collect this part, try to collect it from smaller branches rather than the stem, from branches that have fallen, or from trees that are due to be cut for other purposes.

However tempting it may look, never pick in places that are subject to pollution from roads, industry or heavy spraying of farm chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers etc.). And don't collect from nature reserves either - these are areas set up to protect wild species, so give them their space and let them be!

Cast seeds of native species to the earth and to the winds once in a while - as a way of giving something back. Consider adopting a little patch that you are particularly fond of. When you are out and about, never leave any litter behind, but try to bring some back with you - I always carry two bags, one for foraging and one for litter picking. Give thanks to the plants and to Mother Earth who has provided them.

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The slaughter of uncontacted tribal people deep in the Amazon forest

achuarwoman (62K)I was horrified when I heard the news: women, children, young men and elders - all dead. I felt the anger, the tears, the frustration well up inside of me and had to fight hard to swallow it all down. I couldn't speak, nor cry. The screams of those massacred deep in the Ecuadorian forest have been swallowed up by a wall of silence. Nobody wants to talk about it. For these were people that nobody knew, uncontacted tribes, nameless nomads, with only one wish - to be left in peace to live their traditional lifestyle far away from the evils of civilization. It was not to be. Civilization in its most horrendous form caught up with them in the guise of their own distant cousins. What did they want? Why did they kill?

Divide and rule is the name of the game. An ancient method of gaining power and control: send in the mercenaries, preferably natural enemies of the adversary, but one's who know their actions and behaviour well. Gain trust with lies, phoney 'gifts' or 'deals' while preparing for the kill. Then, when the moment has come, go for broke and show no mercy. This strategy is well tried and tested, having once found abundant application in the subjugation of the First Nations of North America, forcing opposing tribes to their knees at the hands, or with the aid of their mercenary brethren. Betrayal and deceit as a means to pursue power and riches. These days the perpetrators are logging companies, oil companies, mining companies and drug lords - while governments turn a blind eye. The victims have remained the same - indigenous people, who try to defend their heritage, their lifestyle and the tribal land of their ancestors.

It is not easy to negotiate tribal rights and access rights - let alone with independently minded people who have no interest or desire to enter any kind of agreement with outsiders. Much easier therefore, to simply eliminate the 'problem'. After all, an unknown entity will never be missed and the world will never know as long as their screams do no not reach the regions beyond the forest. In this case they somehow did, someone got away and told the story and thus it reached my ears. And as I listened I felt helpless, numb and desperately sad about the way of the world, far away from the 'niceties of society' and its seemingly lawful confines. But does this story really come from so far away? The actual murderers had no personal bones to pick with their victims - they were simply executing the will of the paying hands, which in turn is attached to a much longer and stronger arm with a very definite vested interest in the resources they would be able to get their dirty hands on once these inconvenient savages were out of the way.

But who and where are these men with the long, strong arms? They sit in meetings and talk about 'opportunities' and money to be made. One would never think of them as murderers - they are 'respectable' business people and are probably only dimly aware of the impact of their words when they say - 'I don't care, just get them out of the way' - thus, a chain of events unravels that culminates in merciless slaughter - and they get away with it.

How can that be? Why do they get away with it? For one thing, there is no real evidence that this scenario really happened. We keep hearing rumours - and not just from Ecuador, but also from Peru and other parts, but what is a rumour? Nothing, in the eyes of the law. And so the silent slaughter may continue, until there is nobody left to tell the tale because a whole tribe has been extinguished, executed in an unspoken war on the environment and the people of the forest.

Sadly, there is nothing I can do for these people whose names and faces I never knew. Nothing, except to remember them and to tell the tale. This terrible incident and countless others that follow the same pattern make me yet again aware of the vital role that community based eco-tourism projects can play, not just to protect a habitat and its wildlife, but also the people of the forest. Community based tourism projects promise economic rewards for everybody, taking away the incentive for mercenaries to slaughter their brethren or poach animals or trees. A community that is collectively involved in a tourism project has a peaceful source of income that depends on the health and well-being of the forest and its inhabitants and not on rape and pillage of its resources. Furthermore the eyes of foreigners bear witness and may carry the real story of what goes on out into the world - and we, the people, can show that we care.

More background info on this issue go to:
'Alleged Massacre'
Yasuni Rainforest Campaign

Further resources for indigenous people's rights:

Cultural Survival
Survival International

Half the Peruvian Amazon Leased for Petroleum Development

achuar (71K)WASHINGTON, DC, December 4, 2006 (ENS) - Conservation groups based in Washington warned today that the Peruvian government is signing so many contracts with multinational oil companies that half the rainforest of the Peruvian Amazon is now covered with oil leases. The Peruvian Amazon contains some of the most pristine and biodiverse rainforests on Earth, says said Dr. Matt Finer of Save America's Forests, who has spent years working as an ecologist in the rainforests of Peru and Ecuador.

"Over 97 million acres of the Peruvian Amazon, roughly the size of California, is now zoned for oil and gas exploration and exploitation," he said. "That represents well over one-half of the remaining intact Peruvian rainforest." "The Peruvian oil concessions overlap with some of the most biodiverse areas of rainforest on Earth." More than 20 oil concessions now occupy most of the northern Peruvian Amazon. This region is the ancestral territory of the Achuar, Quechua, Urarina, and Secoya indigenous peoples.

"Virtually all of the concessions overlap indigenous territories," said Trevor Stevenson of Amazon Alliance. "Most troubling, some of the concessions overlap areas that are home to uncontacted tribes living in voluntary isolation."

AIDESEP, Peru’s national indigenous Amazonian federation, says that people living traditionally in voluntary isolation inhabit the same general region where the new oil reserves have been discovered.

Achuar men engage in a tribal ritual (Photo courtesy Eric Schniter) Many of the indigenous communities in the north and their representative organizations oppose new oil development, citing the widespread contamination of the two producing oil blocks in the region.

Frustration among the Achuar people over the dumping of contaminated wastewater grew until in October a federation of Achuar communities shut down operations of these two oil blocks for 14 days, blocking 50 percent of national production.

For 35 years, the Achuar said, contamination from current drilling by PlusPetrol Norte and previous drilling by Occidental Petroleum Corp. and Petrolifera Petroleum Ltd. had been affecting the health and territory of native people.

Full article at:

http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/dec2006/2006-12-04-07.asp

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February 21-March 2, 2007

bird8 (44K)bird7 (38K)This 10-Day tour will visit one of the most amazing places in the world: the Galapagos Islands. Made world famous by Darwin and his theories of evolution which he developed after visiting this group of 13 major islands and dozens of smaller islets and rocks, each with their own distinct eco-systems and unique endemic species. The islands, which were formed by volcanic activity, are as stunning as they are bizarre - a world out of this world with a rich wildlife population that has never learned to fear humans. The Galapagos Islands are an incredible place for birders, offering no less than 28 endemic species. There of course are lots of other things to see including playful sea lions, ancient sea turtles (after which these Islands were named) exotic plant life, volcanoes and evocative land and seascapes.

We will visit two of the least visited, but most bird rich islands, GENOVESA, ISABELA and FERNANDINA! Here we can easily see Galapagos Penguins and Flightless Cormorants. We will also visit BACHAS with its beautiful beaches, ESPAÑOLA, FLOREANA, SANTA CRUZ, BARTOLOME, and NORTH SEYMOUR. Don't miss out on this great opportunity to visit one of the most unique birding areas in the world! Maximum number of participants is 15 - spaces will go quickly, so sign up now!!

View full itinerary

For further questions and booking inquiries, send email to info at sacredearth - travel.com


NEW!!!

tortoise (55K)We now also offer a land-based Galapagos tour for those who either don't want to do a cruise or wish to spend more time exploring the little visited Island of Isabela.

Isabela is the largest island of the volcanic Galapagos archipelago. Here you can see the famous Giant Tortoises (the Galápagos, from which the island chain gets its name), as well as many of the other species such as giant lizards, that have made the Galapagos a household word for animal life. Here too you can see Sea Lion breeding areas and watch white tipped sharks, as well as many of the 85 species of birds that live or visit the islands.

Be part of a selected group of people and get a whole new view of the Galápagos, while at the same time learning something about the people on these islands. Ecotourism is about protecting the environment but also integrating local people and sharing the benefits through community-based services, such as guides, boat operators, etc.

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rubber (43K) When we think of plant products we think of wood, of medicinal herbs, of vegetables and maybe even essential oils, fibres and dyes. But rarely will we think of gums and resins - the sticky stuff that many plants usually exude when their protective membrane or bark has been injured. (Some also excrete resin freely, without any prior injury). Resins, gums and latex are almost ubiquitous in the plant kingdom and many of them continue to play an important role in our daily lives.

Most famously, Frankincense and Myrrh, two oriental species of Burseraceae trees also know as the family of 'balsam trees' have engraved themselves on our consciousness ever since the three holy men presented the baby messiah with this sacred gift. Few who have not heard the names - but even fewer who know what they are, where they come from, smell like or what they do.

Numerous plants produce some kind of resin, latex or gum, but only a few are commercially important today, even though their uses and applications are truly manifold. They have been used as adhesives, emulsifiers, thickening agents, they are added to varnishes, paints and ink; they lend their aromas to perfumes and cosmetics and even play a role in pharmacy and medicine.

burningincense (34K)The ancients regarded the fragrant resins and oils as sacred and considered them the life blood of the plant, the carrier of its soul, and burnt them ritually as a sacrifice to the Gods. It was believed that the Gods lavished themselves on scent, rather than substance. Scent is the subtle (or not so subtle) body of a being, the medium by which messages are transmitted chemically, below the threshold of consciousness. We still use this method of communication, though our aim is usually to get the attention of the opposite sex, rather than to win favour with the Gods.

Before we move on to a detailed examination of specific plant gums and resins, let's first of all examine the different chemotypes of these exudates.

Balsam

benzoin (36K)This term has long been used as a rather vague description for any soothing resinous fragrant plant exudates. These days chemists use the term to describe a rather distinct class of resinous substance, which contains high amounts of cinnamic and benzoic acids and their esters as well as essential oils, which lends them their characteristic balsamic scent. Typical examples of balsams are Balsam of Peru, Tolu Balsam, Balm of Gilead, and the Balsams of Copaiba. Physically these substances can vary greatly - they can be a clear, viscous substance or a dark sticky mass, but upon exposure to air they all sooner or later tend to solidify. Traditionally balsams are used medicinally, often for skin complaints or respiratory afflictions. They are widely used as aromatic agents for skin care products or in perfumery. However, some people are highly allergic to benzoic acid an can react severely to even small amounts.

Gums

Gums are substances that are either water soluble or can absorb water - they are not soluble in oil. Chemically they are complex polysaccharides (Carbohydrates).

Gums either derive from the a resinous sap or from the endosperm of certain seeds, e.g. like Guar Gum, which is derived from the seeds of Cyamopsis tetragonolubus, an African herbaceous plant of the pea family. Gums are widely used as emulsifying and thickening agents in the food industry, but they also find uses in other industries, from pharmacy to cosmetics and skin care products, to the manufacture of inks, paper, watercolours and even the adhesive on the back of stamps. Water soluble gums also play an important role in a healthy diet as they are able to bind endotoxins and help to excrete them by adding bulk to the stool. Psyllium seed - a well known dietary supplement often used for minor constipation is a prime example of this action. Some seaweeds also yield gums - e.g. agar agar is a well known and widely used in cooking as a thickener.

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Resins

These most commonly found types of plant exudates are chemically completely different to gums. Resins are terpene-based compounds. Terpenes constitute one of the largest groups of plant chemicals, and they can be very complex. They are not water soluble, but can be either oil soluble or spirit soluble, depending on their specific chemical composition.

Most resins and latexes are obtained from the tree trunk by making incisions, and 'bleeding' the tree - a process that is known as 'tapping'. While it is possible to harvest resins sustainably, it must be remembered that deliberately injury puts a considerable strain on any tree and there must be strict limits to the number of incisions and period of productivity. Recent research has shown that the carbohydrates present in the exudates are important energy reservoirs for the trees concerned and that excessive tapping reduces the numbers of flowers and the size and viability of the seeds. Such guidelines are particularly important to observe where the gum is collected from wild populations where regeneration is left to nature.

Resins used to be much more commonly utilized in industry, e.g. in the production of oil paints and varnishes or to waterproof ships. These days their industrial uses have largely been diminished in favour or synthetic substitutes. Some resins have powerful medicinal properties that have long been utilized in herbal medicine, but others can be toxic. For example resins derived from certain plants of the Artemisia family or from the Cypress contain thujone, which is a known neurotoxin.

Oleoresins

These resins are chemically terpene compounds with a high volatile oil content. Because of the rich oil content they are softer and more pliable than resins. The volatile oil content is often extracted by solvent extraction to create various essential oils that are used in perfumery or as scenting agents for numerous household products. The term 'Gum-Resin' is also sometimes erroneously applied, but it is a confusing oxymoron and should not be used.

Latex

As the term implies, latex has a milky appearance: it is usually found as a white, thin, slightly sticky substance, which coagulates by boiling. The degree of elasticity of the resulting coagulant depends on the nature of its polyisoprenes. Cis-polyisoprenes confer a greater degree of elasticity. The best known and most important plant latex is derived from the rubber tree. A whole boom and bust economy flourished in the Amazon at one time - until by an act of biopiracy some rubber tree seeds where stolen and planted in a plantation in India, thus breaking the monopoly dependence on South-American supplies. But it wasn't long before natural rubber was replaced by synthetic substitutes and plastics. Latex has found many applications from sealant paints to rubber tires, to insulating sheathing for electrical wires to rubber gloves, boots and other kinds of eclectic apparel.

In the next issue we will examine specific gums, resins and latexes and their uses.



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Frankincense


Boswellia spp.
Burseraceae

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Description:

There has been much confusion over the exact identity of this tree - for the simple reason that the substance known as Frankincense has been obtained from several different species of Boswellia trees. Omani trees (Boswellia sacra) are small, shrubby desert trees with pinnate leaflets and thorny branches. The Indian species, Boswellia serrata are more stately trees, often with divided trunks. The wood is very resinous, which protects them in case of injury. Small, whitish-yellow, 5-petaled flowers appear in axillary racemes. The trees often appear to be growing directly out rocks and boulders. They cling to the rock faces by means of special adaptive disk-like swelling that grow at the bottom of the trunk, but only develop in terrain that makes the necessary and useful, e.g. on steep mountain-sides. Excessive harvesting reduces the number of flowers and size and viability of the seeds. Cattle and camels browse on the leaves and branches, especially in times of draught.

Name:

Frankincense is a fairly generic name that describes various species of Boswellia. It is thought that the name arose from the fact that Frankish Crusaders introduced this incense to the Occident. Its other name 'Olibanum' is derived from the Arab word 'al Luban', which means 'milk' and is a reference to the milky sap that exudes from the tree upon incision.

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History

Familiar by name, yet otherwise perfectly obscure - this much fabled Arabian tree has been as famous as it has been elusive since long before the birth of Christ, when the three wise men from the East brought it as a gift to that humble stable in Bethlehem. We do not know how far the use of Frankincense goes back in time, but we do know that it already scented the Egyptian Temples to honour Ra and Horus and it is said that Queen Sheba brought a great number of Frankincense trees as a special gift for King Solomon. Unfortunately those trees were destined to die as Frankincense trees only grow in a very limited geographic range and very arid conditions. Nevertheless, it's the thought that counts and bringing all these trees was indeed a very strong sign of honour and respect. In the ancient world incense trees fuelled the economy of the Arab world as oil does today. Trading cities positioned at important points of the spice or incense routes prospered considerably thanks to the thoroughfare business. At one time Frankincense was more valuable than gold - needless to say, a situation much relished by the traders who only benefited from the obscurity and remoteness of the trees. Legend had it that the trees only grew in the most inhospitable mountainous places, guarded by dragon-like creatures that would readily strike out at any intruder. Obviously such stories were invented to scare off any attempts of enterprising and adventurous young men who otherwise perhaps might have ventured in search of the trees to do a little harvesting themselves. But, scare tactics aside, the long journey across the desert was no amble down the garden path - it was fraught with peril and as potentially dangerous as it was lucrative.

There are several regions where Frankincense grows, of which Oman, Somalia and Ethiopia are the most important suppliers today. Now as in the days of Solomon the most important use of Frankincense was as a sacred offering for the Gods. And although the worldwide demand for it has broadened, the actual worldwide consumption used to be far greater than it is now. Much Frankincense is still gathered in the traditional way from wild growing trees. The trees, although provided by nature, 'belong' as deliberated by unspoken agreement, to particular families who live nearby and who claim the right to harvest them. In the ancient world all Frankincense trees were decreed to belong to the King and only he negotiated the harvesting rights with the various merchants for a goodly fee. Studies have shown that where families take a 'guardian' position towards the trees they are far better cared for and protected as naturally any desert dweller will be quite careful to protect the source of their livelihood compared to roving harvesters who do not have any vested interest in the welfare of a particular tree.

resin (41K)Harvesting Frankincense is quite a time consuming process. A deep incision is made into the trunk (actually several incisions per tree, although according to recent research more than 5 incisions causes considerable stress to the trees.) and a small piece of bark next to it is removed. This wounding causes the tree to 'bleed' a milky white substance that seals and heals the wound and prevents infection. After three months the resin has hardened enough to be scraped off the trunk. However, to obtain the best quality Frankincense the process of wounding is repeated 3 times and only the resin collected from the third harvest is considered to be of superior quality. The solid resin is sorted into various qualities, some as tears, and some as grains of different colour and sizes. The quality is determined by the degree of opacity. Resin destined for distillation is shipped off while still slightly sticky on the inside, which denotes high concentration of volatile oil.

Its use as incense, especially in Catholic ceremony, still represents the greatest proportion of its worldwide usage. Locally it has also always been used medicinally for various conditions and as an ingredient of cosmetic preparations and unguents. This use was spread beyond local use in the days of the ancients and many of the early medical writings, e.g. of Pliny, Dioscorides and Avicenna report its range of medicinal uses. The western world had all but forgotten about the therapeutic qualities of Frankincense until quite recently Frankincense created some new ripples of excitement in the medical community - and not just in the alternative medicine scene. In fact, although it is widely used in Aromatherapy, mostly as an antidepressant, the herbal community makes little use of it.

Medicinal uses:

The traditional applications of Frankincense are very diverse - ranging from dental disease to skin conditions, to respiratory complaints and digestive troubles - to name but a few. Throughout the ancient world, from Egypt to China and from India to Rome - not to mention the Arabian countries where Frankincense was grown, used not only the oleoresin, but practically every part of the tree: root and bark, bud, flower and fruit - as well as the resin and the essential oil all had their various uses.

The powdered bark was made up into an astringent paste which was used as a soothing ointment as a remedy for swelling (oedema). As a treatment for mastitis the dried or fresh gum was boiled in milk from the patient, to form a thick paste which was applied to the affected part.

The bark was brewed into a stimulating and cleansing tea, while the white inner root of young plants was chewed to treat stomach problems. The singed, powdered bark was commonly stored as a first aid remedy for wounds. Mixed with water it was applied as a 'ready to use' dressing for wounds and burns, though if available, the fresh bark was also used for this purpose- particularly as an antiseptic wash to clean dirty or infected wounds. The resin's antiseptic properties have been utilized as in ingredient for eye-washes to treat various ophthalmic diseases, while in Ethiopia the soot of the resin is thought to be beneficial for the eyes and sore or tired eyes are fumigated with the smoke.

The bark also found application in the setting of broken bones. Two pieces of the wood were used as splints, with strips of Frankincense bark wrapped around them along with bandage soaked in soft resin, which upon drying helped to provide firm support for the mending bone.

The resin was chewed to stimulate the gums and treat dental infections and sore gums and to generally strengthen the teeth. Buds and fruit provided a cleansing tonic for the digestive system. Brewed into a decoction with Cinnamon and Cardamom the resin was used to treat stomach aches. Burnt as incense it was not only thought to keep off the demons of disease and reduce pain, but it was also thought to act as an expectorant and was used to clear phlegm from the head and chest in cases of colds, flu and conditions of the upper respiratory tract.

Frankincense was thought to improve memory and dispel lethargy. As an admixture to white wine and the lungs of a hare it was also used as a remedy for epilepsy, while the smoke of the smouldering resin was used to treat severe and persistent headaches.

The smoke is also a powerful insect deterrent and thus served as a prophylactic to prevent the bites of malaria carrying mosquitoes.

In Dhofar the bark was made into an ointment to treat severe muscle pain, but only in India was the oleoresin noted as a remedy for rheumatism - one of the foremost conditions for which Frankincense has been rediscovered in recent times.

The bark's astringent properties have been incorporated in ointments to treat skin sores and chapped skin, while Emperor Nero utilized a pomade made from the gum mixed with wax to disguise the tell-tale bags beneath his eyes that appeared after a night of debauchery.

Frankincense also played a role in women's medicine - the bark was chewed for morning sickness and a potion made from the resin dissolved in wine with snakeskin was thought to ease difficult labour. During and after birth frankincense was burnt for 40 days in order to protect mother and child. The mother would also fumigate herself by squatting over the smouldering resin in order to restore muscle tone, support healing of any birth scarring or laceration and to speed recovery from the strains of labour.

Modern research has focused on Frankincense' anti-inflammatory properties, particularly in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and soft tissue rheumatism for which it appears to be extremely useful. Other effective treatments include extracts administered for gastro-intestinal diseases such as colitis and Crohn's disease.

OTHER USES

Since ancient times the clean, fresh, balsamic fragrance of Frankincense has been utilized to as perfume - the very word perfume derives from the Latin 'par fumer' - through the (incense) smoke, a direct reference as to the origin of the practise of perfuming. Clothes were fumigated, not only to give them a pleasant smell, but also to cleanse them. Perfuming is a cleansing practice. In Dhofar not only clothes were perfumed, but other articles such as water jugs were also cleansed with smoke to kill bacteria and energetically purify the vessel of life-giving water, just as smudging is practiced today as a method of cleansing ritual objects and purifying the aura of participants as vessels of the divine spirit.

Today, Frankincense essential oil is used as a fixative and precious oil not only in the perfume industry, but also lends its scent to soaps, detergents and numerous cosmetic articles. In ancient times the charcoaled remains of the smouldered resin was powdered and mixed with waxes, oils and other substances to create Kajal (Khol) - the black eye-liner, which can be observed in every depiction of ancient Egyptian divinities and is still available as a beauty product today - though most brands no longer contain Frankincense. In ancient times this eyeliner was not just used for cosmetic purposes though - it was also believed to have protective properties and improve vision.

The adhesive qualities of the gum have been used to seal minor crack and repair pottery and other utensils, as the gum hardens upon drying. Combined with other substances it has also been used to caulk ships.

In ancient Egypt Frankincense and Myrrh were among of the most essential ingredients of the sacred embalming lotions with which the mummies were prepared.

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Review

Herbal Journal 2007
Calendar: Herbs, Healing, and Folkways

By Zoe Hawes and Friends

If you are still looking for a Christmas present for your herb-dabbling friends - you might find it here. The Herbal Journal is a lovingly produced Calendar, filled with plant lore and titbits, as well as some useful herbal information. Every week is laid out on one page, while the opposite page features a particular herb, illustrated either by a beautiful photograph or water colour image, with an accompanying text snippet.

The introduction reveals the author's passion for plants. The first few pages offer some general practical tips on how to collect and dry plant materials, as well as instructions on how to make basic herbal preparations, such as infusions, tinctures and syrups. Unfortunately space limitations makes this section a little too general in nature and for practical purposes I would recommend consulting other sources.

In the Calendar pages each day receives a space for personal notes, while at each of the Quarter Days (Equinoxes and Solstices) a couple of pages are inserted for notes and reflections, which is a nice gesture and invites real interaction. It is a bit of a shame though that no further information is offered as to the significance of these quarter days in the herbalist's year - particularly with respect to gathering herbs.

Reference is also made to practically every conceivable public holidays in various English speaking countries, as well as religious holidays for several traditions. The moon phases are also noted, which is nice - however, it would have been even nicer to provide the astrological sign of each moon phase and the time at which it occurs as well. And, although there is a brief section on the doctrine of signatures and the qualities of the planets, there is little further explanation on the characteristics of the signs and elements and which sign/element combinations maybe particularly useful e.g. for planting or harvesting, collecting and drying. Granted - this is a calendar for herb friends, not astrologers, but if one draws on the connection between the two disciplines it would have been nice to offer sufficient information to make it relevant and useful rather than just anecdotal.

What I linked most about this Calendar is the way it incorporates plants from all over the world and lets people from different countries present their views on various herbs or the relationship between people and plants. For me this calendar scores more highly on visual appearance than practical usefulness, but it is a lovely 'coffee table' production with many interesting and inspiring reflections sprinkled among its pages. Overall, this is a beautifully produced calendar - a little hefty perhaps for carrying around in your handbag, but nice to keep around for keeping personal notes and observations.


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Nominations for '2007 Most Endangered Sacred Sites' List needed

Sacred Sites International Foundation (SSIF) is currently accepting nominations for their '2007 Most Endangered Sacred Sites' List

In the past, SSIF has recognized a diverse array of sites from around the world that are facing multiple threats that range from natural deterioration to careless destruction by development and resource exploitation. This year, SSIF would like to continue their efforts of bringing worldwide attention and validity to the struggles that sacred places face throughout the global community.

Sites recognized through this listing may be of any cultural, religious or historical value. As a secular organization, SSIF strives to bring awareness of the breadth of spiritual and sacred places in all their forms and associations. Nominations to the 2007 Most Endangered Sacred Sites List may be made by any individual or organization, although only one nomination per site is requested.

How To Apply:

To nominate a site for consideration, please fill out the attached, two-page nomination form (request PDF format if needed). Supplemental material may be provided, within reason. All fields are required. Any incomplete forms will be not be considered. Nomination forms may be submitted via postal mail or electronically. Hard copy submissions may be sent to:

Sacred Sites International Foundation
1442A Walnut Street #330
Berkeley, CA 94709 USA

Electronic submission may be sent to sacredsite at aol.com. Please limit photographs or supplemental material to 2MB.

All nominations are due by February 20, 2007. Late submissions will not be accepted. Notification of the selected sites will be made in April 1, 2007.

Additional information may be found online at www.sacred-sites.org.

Sacred Sites International strives to bring international recognition of both these precious spiritual and cultural resources and the threats by which their continued existence is left in question. For more information about the 2005 Most Endangered Sacred Sites List or about Sacred Sites International, including how you can get involved to enact change to protect these sacred place, contact Sacred Sites International at 1442A Walnut Street #330, Berkeley, CA 94709 or visit www.sacred-sites.org .

Sacred Sites International Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of sacred sites and their traditional cultures and is based in Berkeley, California.

Additional information may be found online at www.sacred-sites.org


Brazil Protects Vast Expanse of Northern Amazon

WASHINGTON, DC, December 5, 2006 (ENS) - In an effort to conserve the last great stretch of untouched rainforest on Earth, the governor of Brazil's Pará state has protected an Amazon expanse the size of Illinois inhabited by thousands of wildlife species. Stretching from the border of Guyana and Suriname in the north to south of the Amazon River, the seven new protected areas created by Pará Governor Simão Jatene include the world's largest tropical forest reserve.

Pará Governor Simão Jatene has set aside seven areas of his state for conservation. (Photo courtesy CNTur) The newly protected areas link to existing reserves to form a conservation corridor in the northern Amazon. Endangered species in the newly protected areas include the giant otter and northern bearded saki monkey, along with rare species such as the jaguar, giant anteater and black spider monkey.
http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/dec2006/2006-12-05-03.asp


ACTION ALERTS:

In his unfailing efforts to protect ancient forests and raise awareness on crucial environmental issues, Glen Barry from the Ecological Internet regularly organizes ACTION ALERTS - letter writing campaigns to lobby politicians, policy makers and industrial players. You can take a stand and join these campaigns simply by visiting the links and send a pre-written letter from the site, which will bare your name and adding your voice to the plight of the earth. Make a difference by joining these letter campaigns to save ancient forests:

Action Alert: Protest Plans to Destroy Uganda's Few Remaining Rainforests for Plantations

Let the Ugandan President and Parliament know rainforests and their ecological services are more valuable than sugar and oil palm production By Rainforest Portal, a project of Ecological Internet - December 15, 2006

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is pursuing legally dubious plans to destroy much of Uganda's last few rainforests to grow palm oil and sugar cane crops. Uganda has long been facing a deforestation crisis, with forests covering 20 percent of Uganda 40 years ago, but now just covering seven percent. The plans targets two forested areas: 10,000 hectares on the island of Bugala on Lake Victoria for oil palm by a company named Bidco; and 7,000 hectares, some one-third of Mabira Forest Reserve which has been protected since 1932, for sugar cane production by the Mehta Group.
http://www.rainforestportal.org/alerts/send.asp?id=uganda

Action Alert: Oppose Oil Production in Ecuador's Yasuni National Park

After an earlier successful campaign to halt oil road construction, the message must still be sent that oil extraction and protected areas do not mix.
By Rainforest Portal, a project of Ecological Internet - November 8, 2006

In two separate letters delivered to the Ecuadorian government, a group of over 40 Yasuni scientists (known as the Scientists Concerned for Yasuni) and 6 international NGOs have criticized Petrobras' new Environmental Impact Study (EIS) of their new "roadless" plan to build oil production facilities in Ecuador's world class Yasuní National Park. Although both letters praise Ecuador for stopping Petrobras from building an access road into Yasuni National Park, they emphasize that the new project design (construction and operation of 2 drilling platforms, flow lines, a processing facility and pipeline) will cause major impacts to the region's biodiversity and indigenous peoples.
http://www.rainforestportal.org/alerts/send.asp?id=ecuador

Action Alert: Massive Gas Pipeline to Pierce the Amazon

Project will devastate South America's rainforests, water and climate
By Rainforest Portal, a project of Ecological Internet - March 22, 2006

Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina plan to build a massive natural gas pipeline of up to 9,000 km in length from Venezuela to Argentina through Brazil's Amazon rainforest. Construction of the pipeline would be the most ambitious physical infrastructure initiative in South America's history, costing up to $25 billion and taking up to seven years to build. The pipeline would pierce the heart of the Amazon and ensure its destruction as a large, operable whole. It would devastate rainforests, water resources, the climate and indigenous populations across a huge swathe of South America.

The pipeline would devastate the Amazon rainforest's environment. Large areas of pristine rainforests will be destroyed during construction, and new roads will open the rest for colonization by ranchers and loggers. Historically rainforest for 50 kilometers on each side of new roads are cleared within years of construction. The multitude of waterways traversing the Amazon will be polluted during construction and inevitable pipeline leaks. The pipeline will contribute to global warming through deforestation and the production of oil to access the gas.
http://www.rainforestportal.org/alerts/send.asp?id=amazon_pipeline


Half the Peruvian Amazon Leased for Petroleum Development

WASHINGTON, DC, December 4, 2006 (ENS) - Conservation groups based in Washington warned today that the Peruvian government is signing so many contracts with multinational oil companies that half the rainforest of the Peruvian Amazon is now covered with oil leases.

The Peruvian Amazon contains some of the most pristine and biodiverse rainforests on Earth, says said Dr. Matt Finer of Save America's Forests, who has spent years working as an ecologist in the rainforests of Peru and Ecuador.

"Over 97 million acres of the Peruvian Amazon, roughly the size of California, is now zoned for oil and gas exploration and exploitation," he said. "That represents well over one-half of the remaining intact Peruvian rainforest." "The Peruvian oil concessions overlap with some of the most biodiverse areas of rainforest on Earth." More than 20 oil concessions now occupy most of the northern Peruvian Amazon. This region is the ancestral territory of the Achuar, Quechua, Urarina, and Secoya indigenous peoples.

"Virtually all of the concessions overlap indigenous territories," said Trevor Stevenson of Amazon Alliance. "Most troubling, some of the concessions overlap areas that are home to uncontacted tribes living in voluntary isolation." http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/dec2006/2006-12-04-07.asp

Rainforests Contain Perhaps Thousands of Plants and Herbs with Medicinal Properties

By Earth Talk
Dec 11, 2006, 07:00

(HealthNewsDigest.com).. Tropical rainforests, which account for only seven percent of the world's total land mass, harbor as much as half of all known varieties of plants. Experts say that just a four-square mile area of rainforest may contain as many as 1,500 different types of flowering plants and 750 species of trees, all which have evolved specialized survival mechanisms over the millennia that mankind is just starting to learn how to appropriate for its own purposes. http://healthnewsdigest.com/cgi-bin/artman/exec/view.cgi?archive=12&num=4957

Ethnobotanical study of Northern Peru reveals abundant system of plant-based medicine spanning 510 plant species (NewsTarget) A pair of researchers from the University of Hawaii and the San Diego Museum of Man recently examined the traditional plant-based system of medicine -- "ethnobotany" -- in Northern Peru to gather information on ancient herbal remedies and healing rituals, in a study published in the online November edition of Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine.

The researchers -- Rainer Bussmann and Douglas Sharon -- traveled to Northern Peru to interview local healers known as curanderos and observe native healing practices. Bussmann and Sharon, who are both fluent in Spanish, also collected ethnobotanical information from plant sellers by purchasing native plants in local markets, and by accompanying curanderos on harvesting trips and to healing ceremonies.
http://www.newstarget.com/021294.html


World Intellectual Property Organization Seeking to Protect Products Made from Traditional Resources

Pharmaceutical companies make billions of dollars from top-selling drugs. But, the communities that harbor the traditional knowledge and genetic resources from which these drugs are made, reap few benefits. The World Intellectual Property Organization, which oversees patents, trademarks and copyrights, has been working for the past five years to reach an agreement that would help spread the wealth from products stemming from traditional resources.

The Amazon jungle, the forests in Africa and Asia contain many hidden treasures. Their plants, trees, and herbs provide the basis for most of the world's disease-fighting drugs and many of its cosmetic and beautifying remedies. For example, penicillin has been saving millions of peoples' lives for decades. The anti-cancer drug Taxol and the anti-malaria drug extracted from the Chinese herbal plant, Artemisin offer hope to many.

"There is quite a substantial and well documented appropriation of traditional knowledge, especially in the area of traditional medicine-what is generally called bio-prospecting," explains Usman Sarki, a minister in the Permanent Mission of Nigeria to Geneva. He says people go into the African forests in search of medicinal plants, which are then taken out of the continent and brought to Western and other countries.
http://tinyurl.com/vnzk8


Botswana Court Rules in Favor of the San

December 13, 2006 | World Indigenous News

In a stunning endorsement of indigenous land rights, a court in Botswana ruled today that the Botswana government had illegally evicted the San people from their ancestral lands in what is now the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.

The three-judge panel ruled two-to-three that the eviction was unconstitutional, and that the San were entitled to return to their lands. The ruling was a stinging rebuke to the government. Judge Unity Dow, one of the two judges who ruled in favor of the San, said that the government "did not inquire into the consequences of the relocation. In some cases, wives who wished to relocate were turned against their husbands who did not want to do so, and children were also turned against their families."

The government began moving San out of their lands in 1997, to make way for tourism and commercial hunting (and, some people claimed, to allow for diamond mining). The San filed their suit against the government in 2002, when the eviction took full effect. To force people out, the government confiscated communities- water tanks and outlawed hunting in the reserve, a policy that Judge Mpaphi Phumaphi said was "tantamount to condemning the remaining residents of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve to death by starvation."

Hundreds of San were there to hear the ruling, and they were elated with the court-s decision. Roy Sesana, a spokesman for the First People of the Kalahari, said, "Finally, we have been set free. The evictions have been very, very painful for my people. I hope that now we can go home to our land."
http://www.cs.org/publications/win/win-article.cfm?id=2914 [First People of the Kalahari]


NRDC Scolds Airlines for Poor Recycling Record

E-MAGAZINE: December 13, 2006
Just in time for the busy holiday travel season, the non-profit Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released a new report last week scolding the airline industry for the shocking amount of otherwise recyclable waste it discards every year. The report, entitled "Trash Landings: How Airlines and Airports Can Clean Up Their Recycling Programs," also details creative solutions undertaken by some airlines to boost recycling efforts.
http://www.emagazine.com/view/?3504


75% OF AMERICANS DON'T KNOW THEY'RE EATING GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOODS

Organic Consumer News
The fifth annual survey on U.S. consumers' opinions of genetically engineered foods was released last week by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology. In accordance with past years, the survey results indicated that most Americans have very little knowledge about how widespread genetically engineered ingredients are in foods. Surprisingly, the survey found that the average person's knowledge of these issues has actually declined in the last five years. Although 89% of soybeans and 61% of corn acreage in the U.S. is currently genetically engineered (and soy lecithin and corn syrup are found in a myriad of mainstream food products), 75% of people don't think they've ever eaten a food with genetically engineered ingredients. The survey also found that 51% of those polled are opposed to animal cloning. Only 29% said they trust the FDA, which is a strong drop from 41% in 2001.
Learn more: http://www.organicconsumers.org/2006/article_3554.cfm


Pot is called biggest cash crop

The $35-billion market value of U.S.-grown cannabis tops that of such heartland staples as corn and hay, a marijuana activist says.
By Eric Bailey, Times Staff Writer
December 18, 2006

SACRAMENTO - For years, activists in the marijuana legalization movement have claimed that cannabis is America's biggest cash crop. Now they're citing government statistics to prove it.

A report released today by a marijuana public policy analyst contends that the market value of pot produced in the U.S. exceeds $35 billion - far more than the crop value of such heartland staples as corn, soybeans and hay, which are the top three legal cash crops.
http://tinyurl.com/t93l6


Study: High cocoa polyphenol rich chocolate improves the symptoms of chronic fatigue

T Sathyapalan1, P Campion1, S. Beckett2, AS Rigby1 & SL Atkin1
University of Hull, Hull, United Kingdom; Nestlé PTC, York, United Kingdom.

Background
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a debilitating condition with high morbidity and associated reduced quality of life. There are data suggesting neuro-endocrine axis involvement in CFS including disturbance in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, growth hormone axis, opioidergic system and interactions with 5-Hydroxy Tryptamine (5-HT) system. Studies with selective 5-HT-releasing agents, using prolactin or cortisol responses to stimulation, found evidence of enhanced serotonergic responses in patients with CFS. Cocoa is known to increase neurotransmitters like phenyl ethylamine, serotonin, and anandamide in the brain.

Objective
To study the effect of high cocoa polyphenol rich chocolate in patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Design
Double blinded, randomised, placebo controlled fashion using high cocoa polyphenol rich chocolate in comparison to simulated iso-calorific chocolate dyed brown as placebo.

Results
Ten patients were enrolled in the study of which 5 patients completed both arms. The Chandler Fatigue Scale score improved significantly after 8 weeks of the high cocoa polyphenol rich chocolate phase (32.6 vs. 22.0 p value 0.012) and, interestingly, fell significantly when patients were given simulated iso-calorific chocolate (25.3 vs. 28.6 p value 0.026). The residual function, as assessed by the London Handicap scale, also improved significantly after the active phase (0.485 vs. 0.628 p value 0.018). The mean weight before and after the placebo arm were also unchanged (73.43 kg vs. 73.85 kg, respectively p value 0.345). Anecdotally, two patients were able to return back to work after having had their symptoms for a 2 year period and continued on high cocoa polyphenol rich chocolate.

Conclusion
High cocoa polyphenols rich chocolate 15 g three times daily improved fatigue and function in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome over a period of 8 weeks compared to simulated iso-calorific chocolate. Whether hormonal modulation by this high cocoa polyphenols rich chocolate also occurred needs clarification.

Raw Chocolate "The New Red Wine"

Cacao (Theobroma Cacao) is the seed of the fruit of an Amazonian tree which grows throughout Central and South America. Cacao beans are the source for all Chocolate and Cocoa products. Our certified organic, raw Cacao is the premium Criollo variety. Theobroma literally means "Food of the Gods" - so called from the goodness of the seeds and Mexicans named the pounded seeds "Chocolate". The Cacao beans were so cherished by Aztecs and Mayans that it was often used as currency.

Today organic, raw Cacao is used by premium Chocolate makers and is gaining in popularity as nutritious raw superfood. Cacao is incredibly rich in Magnesium and is most likely the number 1 source for this essential mineral. Other essential minerals present in Cacao are Calcium, Zinc, Iron, Copper, Sulfur, Magnesium and Potassium. The bean also contains more antioxidant flavanoids than any other food tested - including blueberries, red wine and green tea. In fact studies have shown Cacao to have over twice as many antioxidants as red wine and three times as much as green tea.
http://www.endocrine-abstracts.org/ea/0012/ea0012p68.htm


Mushrooms help in cancer & AIDS research

Source: PR Web (press release), WA, USA, 14 November 2006

In a breakthrough study by researchers in the USA and Japan, Agaricus blazei mushrooms have been found to have a dramatic effect on helping transforming the health of people with serious immune conditions. Various studies suggest that the Agaricus mushroom can help transform people and animals to health by strengthening immune cell activities and functions such as T-cell, Macrophage, and Natural killer cells.

This may be nothing new, as mushrooms for thousands of years have been a key component in medicinal healing. From the creation of penicillin, to traditional therapies in cultures around the world, the mushroom is considered a recycler in the immune system, just as it is in nature.

The Agaricus is already used by 500,000 people in Japan for minor and major immune maintenance, and is now beginning to be in demand in the U.S. The Dallas Mavericks of the NBA are making plans to incorporate it in their nutrition supplement Nutritox, and owners of Health Food stores like Jeff Kutas have found there is so much interest he is being booked as a speaker to share its benefits.

"I've actually had people tell me that the Agaricus mushroom has extended or even saved their life," says Jeff. 6quot;It makes me feel uncomfortable, because I'm not a doctor, but in our twenty years of working with specialty health products, this product stands alone."
For full story, please see: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2006/11/prweb477073.htm


China beats India in medicinal plants

S.O. News service, Kumta, 5 Dec.:
Even though India is growing more than 5,000 varieties of medicinal plants, its total business of medicinal plant only 2.5 billion dollars but China growing only 1,500 varieties of medicinal plants making more than nearly 800 billion dollars of business said Sirsi Forest college lecturer and president Janajagrti Vedike president prof. Nagesh Naik Kagal.

He was speaking in a program of cultivation and usage of medicinal plants in Axaya High school of Alvekodi of Kumta jointly arranged Janajagriti Vedike Kumta, National Medicinal Plants Board Delhi, Agriculture University Dharwad and Forest College Sirsi. He told these types of programs are being held in the 60 more educational institutions of the district. And he also called upon to create awareness regarding the usage of medicinal plants.
http://tinyurl.com/sl7sg


Tribal Children Showcase Bio-Diversity

Mumbai, November 19: Fifteen-year-old Yeshwant Lilka fervently explains the medicinal importance of specific plants that he has collected over a week to a few judges. Lilka is one among several participants at the National Children Science Congress, an on-going programme that is being held for tribal children between the ages of 10 to 15 years, from the interior regions of Maharashtra.

The contest is currently being held at Bhinor village in Bhiwandi taluka of Thane district. The theme for this year is Bio-diversity. The event is being organised by the state and Jidnyasa, a Thane-based institution that works with children. The interesting thing about the programme is that the children have gathered medicinal plants and information for their project from elders in their family, who themselves have no access to education of any kind.
http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=210135


Conferences, Symposia and Events

January 15-18, 2007 INTERNATIONAL WORKSHOP ON MEDICINAL AND AROMATIC PLANTS, to be held at LOTUS PANG SUAN KAEW HOTEL, CHIANG MAI, THAILAND The Medicinal Plants Conservation Project (MPCP-Egypt) and we have just launched our new website detailing all our work both locally in South Sinai and Nationally. For more details please visit http://www.mpcpegypt.com

February 1: BRIT Distinguish Lecturer Series. Fort Worth, TX.
"A Lifetime of Collecting in the World's Tropics - Or How I Got to Know the Diversity of Plants By Collecting Them" Thomas Croat, Ph.D., P.A. Schulze Curator of Botany, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis. For more information please visit Web site: www.brit.org.

February 25: Women's Wisdom: Herbs for Women's Health. Vacaville, CA.
Living Awareness Institute, explore the use of herbal medicine to support optimum health through all the female cycles of life with Kami McBride. Phone: 707-446-1290 or visit Web site: www.livingawareness.com.

March 1: BRIT Distinguish Lecturer Series. Fort Worth, TX.
"Exploring the New Guinea Highlands: the Magical World of the Birds of Paradise" Bruce Beehler, Ph.D., vice president, Melanesia Center for Biodiversity Conservation, Conservation International, Washington , D.C. For more information please visit Web site: www.brit.org.

March 9: Cultivating The Herbal Medicine Woman Within. Vacaville, CA.
Living Awareness Institute, working with the plants can be a creative path of self-healing. This course is an in-depth, hands-on experience with the plants for women interested in exploring Herbology as a relationship with the Earth, our bodies, and a way of life. The curriculum offers a balance between indoor lab and class time, inner exploration, and outdoor field experience. Phone: 707-446-1290 or visit Web site: www.livingawareness.com.

March 16-18 Holistic World Expo. Toronto, Canada.
The Holistic World Expo is for the public & professionals to come together; Featuring International leaders and speakers, hundred(s) of exhibitors and countless hands-on demonstrations that presents you with a well-rounded view of holistic health benefits. Providing information for individuals who want to enhance their health, de-stress their lives and focus on their spiritual well-being. For more details visit Web site: www.holisticworld.org

April 29-May 4: 1st International Medicinal And Aromatic Plants Conference On Culinary Herbs. Antalya, Turkey.
Main Topics: Cultivation and propagation, Molecular genetics and breeding, Essential oils, Culinary usage, Fresh herbs, Ethnobotanical usage, Biodiversity and conservation, Biological activities, Analytical studies, Processing and trading (sterilization, drying, standardization). For more information contact Prof. Dr. Ibrahim Baktir or Prof. Dr. Kenan Trugut Phone: (90) 2423102469 / (90) 2423102414, Fax: (90) 2422274564, Email: ibaktir@akdeniz.edu.tr or visit Web site: http://www.mapc2007ant.org/.

May 10-13: Tradition to Technology: Saskatchewan, Canada.
Natural Health Products Research Society of Canada and the Candadian Herb, Spice and Natural Health Products Coalition, Invites you to attend their joint international conference. Come join us for four informative days to walk you from non timber forest products through natural health products, processing, research and technology. For more information contact Alister Muir at Email muira@agr.gc.ca or Connie Kehler at shsa@imagewireless.ca or visit Web site: www.saskherbspice.org.

May 14-16: Nutrition & Health Conference: State of the Science and Clinical Applications. San Diego, CA.
The 4th annual conference, sponsored by the University of Arizona Program in Integrative Medicine and Columbia University's Rosenthal Center and directed by health expert and bestselling author Dr. Andrew Weil, will again assemble an outstanding faculty of internationally known scientific researchers, skilled clinicians, innovative chefs and best-selling authors, to discuss the interface between nutrition and healthful living. The three-day conference also includes a public forum, which allows members of the public to pose questions directly to Dr. Weil and other experts in nutrition and health. Registration: Opens at the end of 2006. For more information visit Web site: www.integrativemedicine.arizona.edu.

June 4-7: Society for Economic Botany 48th Annual Meeting. Chicago, IL. Symposium:
The Search for New Plant-based Therapies. Keynote Speaker: Dr. Norman Farnsworth. Hosted by: Lake Forest College, Chicago Botanic Garden, Northwestern University, University of Illinois at Chicago and The Field Museum You can find more information about our symposium at www.seb2007.com.


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