© Kat Morgenstern
This newsletter has been a long time coming - a big thank you goes out to all of you who have been waiting patiently and especially to all those kind souls who have sent me well-wishing messages when my computer died about a month ago. I never received so many e-mails from my readership before! It was refreshing to get a little feedback and realize that my efforts in fact do not go unnoticed - once again thank you for expressing your support and concern!
Well, first the good news: I am temporarily using another computer, at least part time and thus have been able to put a whole new newsletter together. Everything that I had prepared for the previous (May) issue died with the old computer, so I had to start all over again. And here it is - finally!
Now, the bad news: my computer is still out of action - the motherboard is dead (after only two years of use!) and I feel reluctant to replace it, since this would entail reinstalling windows, which in the process would wipe out my hard-drive. As I am more attached to the information stored on my hard-drive than to the computer I have decided to sit tight, improvise for a while and see if I can somehow manage to retrieve the information before I get the HD reformatted - or for that matter, get another computer.
Alas, as if that wasn't enough, several other disasters also struck last month: both cars went down (expensively), my digital camera went kaputt and my modem on the other computer also packed in…I know, it sounds like a sob-story, but I am afraid it's true. I am still reeling from it all, trying to fix what I can or improvise, but money is tight, so for the time being I had to simply resign myself to this streak of extremely bad technology ju-ju and try to make the best of the situation while counting my blessings, which are still many.
So, instead of going up the walls I have been taking to the hills, hiking the mountains, forests, glades and fields and thus found a peace of mind that has kept me sane - and if the truth be known, I rather enjoyed myself out there in the hills...Nevertheless, I would like to take the opportunity to appeal to anybody who is feeling generous and has the desire to do a good deed to please consider supporting Sacred Earth if it is within your means and make a donation via the donation box - or if you have a spare laptop or digital camera lying around - I am very open to donations in kind also. And, don't forget that you can support both Sacred Earth as well as some great eco-travel/conservation initiatives by booking one of our travel adventures - check out Tahuayo Lodge, featured in this issue for example, or any of our other destinations.
Well, that is enough of my whining - I hope you will enjoy this issue of the Sacred Earth newsletter - I am not sure when I will be able to get the next one done, but it may not be before September.
Happy Solstice to you all
and I hope you will have a gorgeous, happy and healthy summer
Kat Morgenstern, Summer Solstice 2004
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I might as well admit it - I adore wild strawberries! As far as I am concerned they are the ULTIMATE wild food. I love bilberries too, or raspberries, or blackberries, for that matter, but nothing on this earth beats wild strawberries. When their season comes I eagerly check all my favorite gathering grounds to make sure they are progressing nicely. I try to restrain myself, but inevitably I end up picking some prematurely, not half the delight as the fully ripened berries - so I leave them be and just keep coming back to see how they are progressing. Happily, wild strawberry is one of those plants whose season is quite prolonged. Depending on factors such as exposure to sunlight and altitude it is possible to harvest them over a period of a couple of months. Of course, competition from birds and other critters can be tough.
It is not just the taste I love about these delightful little plants - it is everything about them: The humble and innocent appearance of their dainty little flowers would never lead one to suspect the scrumptious surprise their cute little fairy berries will yield. It is often said that picking them is a tedious task - this may be true, but the effort is so richly rewarded. Unfortunately I rarely manage to gather enough to take away for later, to prepare any of the numerous goodies to which they would lend themselves, marmalade, or pastries or ice cream … Most of the ones I have ever picked went straight from the plant to the gullet without much further ado - I just can't help myself. I have convinced myself that they don't last very well and that even in the short period it would take to transport them home they would lose too much of their deliciousness, so best to just eat them on the spot. Thus I can't give any recipes that I have actually tried and tested myself, but have to cite other sources who evidently have a larger patch closer to home or are simply more controlled and thus have been able to gather more experience on the subject. My personal recommendation would always be eat them on the spot whenever you can and don't tell anybody.
But before giving you some recipes from other sources, I would just like to carry on singing the praises of wild strawberries for a bit longer and mention their medicinal properties and those of their leaves.
The dried leaves make a very good tonic breakfast tea. The fruit are cooling and refreshing and are very useful for feverish conditions. According to Linnaeus they are also useful for rheumatic gout. The leaves in particular are highly effective in washing out uric acid crystals. In the course of history all sort of claims have been made for strawberries and their leaves, from aphrodisiac to blood cleansing tonic - though these days the plant finds little use in medical herbalism. The sweet little berries are simply appreciated for their taste, though even in times gone by some eminent herbalists disliked the wonderful herb. Hildegard von Bingen had this to say:
'The herb on which wild strawberries grow is more warm than cold. This herb brings mucus to the person who eats it and is not beneficial as medicine. Indeed, the berries themselves make mucus in the person who eats them. They are not good for a healthy or sick person to eat because they grow near the earth and because they also grow in putrid air.'
I respectfully, though most profoundly disagree, Frau von Bingen… Mrs. Grieves was more kindly inclined, though apparently found it a bother to gather the little berries. She mentions an interesting cosmetic use of strawberries: to remove stains from teeth.
'If the juice is allowed to stay on for about five minutes and the teeth are then cleansed with warm water to which a pinch of bicarbonate of soda has been added.'
Incidentally, wild strawberries are said to be effective in removing plaque and tartar from teeth.
Mrs. Grieves also gives an old, somewhat elaborate recipe, which someone here might like to try:
'Gather strawberry leaves on Lamas Eve (1 Aug) press them in the distillery until the aromatick perfume therof becomes sensible. Take a fat turkey and pluck him, and baste him, then enfold him carefully in the strawberry leaves. Then boil him in water from the well, and add rosemary, velvet flower (?), lavender, thistles, stinging nettles, and other sweet smelling herbs. Add also a pinte of canary wine, and half a pound of butter and one of ginger passed through the sieve. Sieve with plums and stewed raisons and a little salt. Cover him with a silver dish cover.'
CAUTION: People prone to allergies should avoid strawberries.TOP
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 fooling unsuspecting mushroom hunters. There are also many more potentially deadly mushrooms with edible look-alikes than there are deadly plants with edible look-alikes.
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 subjected 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.
Every once in a while I run across initiatives that let my heart rejoice and restore my hope and faith in humanity. When I came across the Earth Charter Initiative I was elated to find a worldwide network of hundreds and thousands of people working as individuals, or grassroots organizations and NGOs under the umbrella of the Earth Charter Initiative, all sharing a common vision of appealing to the highest common denominators and values of our shared humanity in an effort to draw up a charter that could serve as a guideline for a sustainable, just and peaceful future for this planet. Below I have collated some excerpts from their website and will thus let the Earth Charter Initiative speak for itself. The full charter can be downloaded as a .pdf file at the end of the article. There is also a link for an endorsement form (also as a pdf file) which individuals and organizations are invited to fill out and send to the headquarters to express their support for this global initiative.
The Earth Charter is a declaration of fundamental principles for building a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society in the 21st century. It seeks to inspire in all peoples a new sense of global interdependence and shared responsibility for the well-being of the human family and the larger living world. It is an expression of hope and a call to help create a global partnership at a critical juncture in history.
At a time when major changes in how we think and live are urgently needed, the Earth Charter challenges us to examine our values and to choose a better way. It calls on us to search for common ground in the midst of our diversity and to embrace a new ethical vision that is shared by growing numbers of people in many nations and cultures throughout the world.
The Earth Charter Commission was formed in early 1997 to oversee the consultation and drafting process and to approve a final version of the Charter, which was released in March 2000, following a Commission meeting in Paris at the UNESCO headquarters. The members were chosen on the basis of their commitment to the cause and their ability to advance the project. The Commission created the Earth Charter Steering Committee to oversee the operations and programs of the Earth Charter Initiative, as well as offer guidance to the International Secretariat.
The Earth Charter International Secretariat is based at the campus of the University for Peace in San José, Costa Rica. The Secretariat provides support for the Commission and Steering Committee, coordinates major programs and global undertakings, and works with a global network of 53 Earth Charter National Committees and facilitators, as well as partner organizations, including National Councils for Sustainable Development.
The Earth Charter focal points are composed of a broad range of community, educational, business, and government representatives. In some countries, National Councils of Sustainable Development (NCSDs) serve as the Earth Charter focal point. In other cases, there is a single person or organization that is the Earth Charter facilitator for that country.
A new phase in the Initiative began with the official launching of the Earth Charter at the Peace Palace in The Hague on June 29, 2000. The mission of the Initiative going forward is to establish a sound ethical foundation for the emerging global society and to help build a sustainable world based on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace.
If you cannot open the pdf file you should download and install the free Acrobat reader.
The Tahuayo Lodge offers one of the most flexible programs of any eco-lodge in the Amazon. Visitors can follow their own interests at their own pace with the help and guidance of the knowledgeable staff. Some of the options available are:
the list goes on and on. Enjoy a week's worth of unforgettable adventure or add extra days if a week is not enough time to do it all.For full details check out the trip description on the travel pages
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Ayurveda is the best known and most widespread healing traditions of India, spanning about 5000 years of unbroken history, though it is by no means India's only traditional medicine. As a culturally diverse country with many different ethnic and tribal groups, India has a rich and varied history of medical practices.
Ayurveda is often described as a science of life rather than just a system of medicine. In fact, the very name means 'science of life', though science in this case does not refer to clinical investigation in the western sense of the word 'science', but to a divinely revealed philosophy which was conceived in a state of meditation. The story goes that a long time ago, when the wisest Brahmans came together to meditate on the subject of health, Ayurveda was revealed to them in its entirety, all at once. Thus, it is as much a philosophy as it is a 'science'. Its basic premise is that body, mind and spirit are an inseparable entity, which in turn is linked to everything else in the universe. Well-being is understood as being in equilibrium with inner and outer forces, which can be achieved by means of a balanced life-style. It central teaching is moderation in all things, whether physical, mental or spiritual. Imbalance in any sphere of life will eventually impact all aspects of a person's 'body-mind'. Thus a balanced diet is just as important as happy thoughts and emotions or a fulfilled sex life.
Yet, what exactly 'balanced' means can be completely different things for different types of people, depending on their temperament. Ayurveda, like Chinese medicine regards the universe as a dynamic interplay of elemental forces (fire, air, earth,water and ether) which fundamentally influence all aspects of the manifest universe.
The elements have little to do with their physical representations, rather it is the essence of fire, water, air, earth and ether that are implied. It is impossible to grasp these concepts scientifically, they must be intuited within their own system of reference and dense network of correspondences.
Each individual is regarded as part and parcel of this vibrant and dynamic network of energies - as are the healing substances used to balance the individual's 'vibration rate'. In the human being these elemental forces combine into three basic constitutional types (temperaments), which are referred to as doshas. All doshas are present in all individuals, but one or the other usually dominates, though sometimes people can have 'dual-doshic' constitutions and display characteristics of two doshas in more or less equal parts.
The three doshas are known as vata, pitta and kapha:
Vata is associated with the elements of air and ether. It symbolizes movement and changeability. Vata energy is cold and dry. An individual with an excess of vata energy may have a tendency towards nervousness and anxiety. They find it hard to sit still and are always on the move. Their minds are quick and active, but often information is quickly forgotten. Their skin or hair may be dry and brittle and they may suffer from cold hands and feet. Their body frame tends to be light and skinny.
Pitta is associated with the elements of fire and water. It symbolises heat and assimilation. It is associated with the metabolic processes and its hot nature requires plenty of food to fuel the metabolism. Because of this inner fire they often turn grey or lose their hair early. Pitta is also said to be oily, which may be reflected in greasy hair and skin. They often have strong body odours. Their memory and thinking processes tend to be sharp. They tend towards perfectionism and often criticise others or even themselves. They can be dominating and controlling.
Kapha is associated with the elements of water and earth. It symbolises structure and substance. Kapha is associated with the bones and connective tissues. Its quality is heavy and cool. Thus kapha types have a heavy body frame and a tendency towards putting on weight. They move and think slowly and can be lethargic. Their skin may feel cool and clammy. They frequently have a sweet tooth. They may be kind and compassionate, but they may be overly attached and become jealous.
Every individual is constantly subjected to outside influences that may alter their inherent doshic quality so that its expression turns negative. To maintain a state of well-being the doshas need to be balanced through herbs, nutrition and appropriate mental or physical exercises (e.g. meditation, yoga).
A large part of Ayurveda is thus concerned with nutritional healing. Foods are categorized into three basic types:
Which foods may be beneficial and which may be harmful is determined by assessing an individual's doshic constitution. Excessive vata energy is balanced by foods that are mostly cooked, oily, heavy and warm, particularly those that are sweet, sour and salty. Refined sugars and yeast should be avoided. Nor are vegetables of the cabbage and potato family recommended. Raw vegetables are ok, but should be marinated or served with salad dressing. Making proper time for meals (rather than quickly grabbing something on the go) and keeping to regular meal times is also important.
Excessive pitta energy is balanced by a predominantly vegetarian diet consisting of plenty of fruits, veggies and grains. Overly spicy or acidic foods should be avoided, as should excessive salt, oil or alcohol.
Excessive kapha energy can be balanced with plenty of light, fresh, raw vegetables and fruit. Sweets, creamy foods, nuts and heavy starchy foods should be avoided. Spicy foods are beneficial as they stimulate the metabolism, but sweet, sour and salty foods should be avoided, as should meat, dairy products and citrus fruits.
Obviously these are only the most rudimentary guidelines. Anybody who wants to try an ayurvedic dietary regime ought to consult an ayurvedic practitioner to get specific recommendations.
But Ayurveda is much more than nutritional healing. It recognizes that different causes of disease call for different sorts of treatment.
Five causes of ill-health are recognized and treated correspondingly:
Western medicine has long struggled to come to grips with the often confusing entanglement of correspondences and frequently dismissed the whole philosophy as mumbo jumbo, simply because it does not fit neatly into a western scientific model. Some modern Ayurvedic doctors have even tried to translate their system of reference into western concepts in order to gain more acceptance or to make it easier for western medicine to understand. But Ayurveda, continues to evade scientific investigation by the microscope method, though evidently it has been used for thousands of years with great success.
In recent years, particularly since a wave of fascination with eastern religions swept across western subcultures, Ayurveda has gained popularity in western societies. Ayurvedic nutritionalists, health spas and massageurs can now be found in San Franscisco, London or Paris - one no longer has to travel half way across the world to benefit from these ancient therapies. However, the question has been raised as to whether a 'culturally alien' medical philosophy can be effective, regardless of where and who it is applied to. This argument is certainly one that warrants a pause of consideration.
In some backwaters of India for example hygienic conditions are not always adequate to sanitarily administer e.g. injections and western style pills may be regarded with such magical awe that they are prescribed excessively and inappropriately, thus producing unwanted results. Western medicine, although it claims universal superiority over indigenous healing systems can easily fail in inadequate conditions. Likewise, Ayurvedic medicine in the hands of insufficiently trained practitioners, who in the western world may not have access to all the healing substances they would have at their disposal in India, may not bring quite the desired results if applied to westerners in the western world. Lifestyle, living conditions and spiritual outlook are also completely different in these two different cultures and trying to transpose one onto another is not necessarily practical, even if it is in vogue, which is not to say that it will never work.
Obviously, in India Ayurveda has been successfully practiced for thousands of years with very good results. But if we want to understand its essence we must aim to understand this philosophy within its cultural and religious context. To only apply the physical measures is to miss half of its wisdom.
|Curcuma (Sp. It. Fr.), acafrao da India (port.), geelwortel (Dutch), kurkum Arab. Manjano (East Africa (KiSwahili), haldi (Hindi) manjal (Tamil), kunyit (Indonesia) temu kunyit (Malaysian), iyu-chin (Chin.)|
Turmeric belongs to the family of Zingiberacea, the ginger family. Anybody familiar with this plant family will readily recognize this affiliation even by simple superficial examination. Turmeric is an upright, relatively short and stout plant that rarely grows more than about 1 meter in height. Its leaves are elongated, dark green, and pointed, often curling slightly along the margins. Each leaf arises on an individual stalk directly from the fleshy rhizome at their base. The rhizome appears scaly due to the remaining rings of previous leaves. Its outer skin is brownish, but its flesh is deep orange-yellow inside. Rhizomes grow to about 5-8 cm x 1.5 - 2.5cm. When bruised they omit a spicy scent. The flower stalk will appear among the leaves, also directly rising from the rootstock. The yellow-reddish flowers are arranged spirally along the cylindrical spike, which may be partially protected by a leaf sheath. The flowers poke out from protective bracteoles, which form little 'pockets' along the flower spike. Turmeric propagates mostly vegetatively by means of rhizome segments.
Turmeric probably originated in India, deriving from the wild species C. aromatica (India, Sri Lanka, E. Himalayas), as this is the area where the greatest diversity of species is found. However, it is now common throughout Southeast Asia, China and southern Australia and in fact it has been naturalized in all wet tropical regions of the world. Today it is widely cultivated throughout the tropics, though most is still grown in India and never leaves that country.
The Genus Name is derived from the Arab word 'kurkum'. Most likely it found its way to the Occident with the caravans of Arab traders. Its Sanskrit name is 'haridra', which means 'yellow wood'.
Turmeric has a long history of use, not just as a spice, but also as a healing agent and as a magical herb. As a spice it is probably most commonly recognized as one of the principle components of curry powder, to which it dons the characteristic yellow color. Curry powder is often mistakenly believed to be just one specific spice blend or even thought to derive from just one plant. The truth is that there are dozens of curry blends, which can vary tremendously and the best are those that are prepared fresh for each individual dish. These are indeed a far cry from the generic blend found on supermarket shelves. Here is one of many possible Curry powder combinations:
However, this basic mix is often varied with e.g. cloves, cumin or cardamom. In India, fish is sometimes wrapped and cooked in the fresh leaves to impart a turmeric flavor. As a spice turmeric gives a warm, slightly astringent note. It is considered carminative and stomachic, stimulating the digestive processes, easing indigestion and reducing flatulence.
When Europeans first discovered turmeric they often falsely identified it as saffron. However, while it serves perfectly as a dye for all sorts of substances, its properties and flavor do no not compare to those of saffron. In India turmeric is indeed widely used as a dye, not just for ritual foods offered to gods at the temples, but also for textiles (Buddhist robes are traditionally dyed with turmeric). Carbonate of soda helps to fix the dye, though it is not very permanent. It is also sometimes used cosmetically as make-up at weddings and other festive occasions. The food industry employs it as a colorant for cheeses, sausage and confectionary.
Turmeric also has certain magical associations, which are linked to fertility of humans and animals. Interestingly in this context, turmeric is medicinally used to regulate menstruation and reduce menstrual cramps. It is also sometimes worn as a magical charm for protection.
After harvesting, the root has to be cured for long-term storage so as to prevent it from shooting up new leaves. The traditional method of curing is to boil or steam the fresh rhizome in lime or sodium carbonated water. This cleans the root, stops all germination, gelatinizes the starch and removes the earthy scent. After boiling, the rhizomes are dried in the sun and subsequently ground to powder. Modern preparation techniques use 20g sodium bisulphite and 20g hydrochloric acid per 45kg of rhizomes, which are boiled in a kind of steam boiler. The result is a cleaner yellow tinted rhizome, which commercially is more attractive. For commercial purposes the roots are then dried artificially, rather than sun-dried, which improves their quality and reduces the risk of fungal growth or other contaminants.
|7 - 9 months after planting (when the lower leaves turn yellow)|
|Volatile oils, terpene, curcumen, starch, albumen, curcumin (colorant) potassium, vitamin C|
The essential oil of turmeric and the colour component are very light-sensitive and deteriorate quickly when exposed to light. Thus it is essential to store the powder in dark jars. Once it has become pale the active constituents are rendered useless. Always pay attention to the packaging date when purchasing turmeric, as it seldom lasts more than 3 months. Turmeric is insoluble in water and ether, but soluble in alcohol. For medicinal purposes a tincture can be prepared.
Turmeric is an excellent liver herb as its signature indicates: It is used for jaundice and to stimulate gallbladder activity. It is thus helpful as a digestive aid for breaking down and digesting fatty foods. Clinical trials have shown it to successfully reduce cholesterol levels. Turmeric has germicidal properties and the traditional indication for use in the treatment of gastric ulcers may be due to its effectiveness in combating H. pylori, which is now found to be the major culprit as a cause of gastric ulcers.(Munzenmaier 1997 )
In Ayurvedic medicine turmeric would be considered a pitta substance since it works on the digestive principle, aiding the metabolic process and the absorption of nutrients. It stimulates the digestive fire.
Some traditional healers use it for the treatment of cough, or cooked with milk, to treat asthma.
Applied externally in combination with Neem leaves it is considered effective against ringworm and scabies. Traditionally it has also been employed as a treatment for eczema, leprosy and purulent inflammation of the eyes.
In Chinese medicine it is indicated for shoulder pain, menstrual cramping, colic and rheumatoid arthritis.
Recent studies have also found turmeric effective in inhibiting certain types of cancers. It has been administered both internally and applied externally to aid the healing of cancer lesions and scars. It is also effective in reducing the odor of cancer.TOP
By Ivor Hughes HerbdataNZ
The Pharmageddon Herbal is a unique learning and reference tool for anybody interested in herbal medicine - produced as an interactive CD. The CD is easy to navigate. As you put it into the CD Rom drive it launches itself and displays a splash screen. Enter via the Bookcase link or read the dedication. From there you can take a wild ride by browsing the CD's incredible resources, including herbal monographs, articles on the history of various aspects of herbal medicine or look at the photo gallery. Most impressive though, is the 12 module teaching unit, which guides the student through a complete learning program on how to gather, dry or grow herbs, distill essential oils or make various herbal preparations. It talks about the theory and practice, the art and the science of herbal medicine in a thoroughly holistic voice, taking into consideration sociopolitical as well as ecological aspects that should concern the holistic health practitioner. What I liked about it especially, apart from the wide swathe of interesting topics covered, is its emphasis on phytochemistry, which is the aspect of herbal medicine that seems to be particularly frightful to the novice. The various compounds and terms are explained in detail as are the chemical processes involved in the different extraction techniques etc. In teaching these modules complete ignorance is assumed so that anybody who only slept on one ear through high school chemistry should be able to follow the concepts presented here. In fact, the pharmageddon does not deal with diagnosis or treatment approaches, but rather with the craft of making the actual herbal preparations, which is the part that most common herbals sadly lack. This CD to my mind is an excellent teaching tool for the novice and a great, instantly accessible desktop reference for the experienced herbalist. It even has an internal search engine!
My only minor niggle is that in some documents the font size and type changes in mid-text, which can be irritating - when I first looked at it on my old computer some documents were very difficult to decipher due to the way the browser displayed these font changes - however, this apparently is not a problem on all browsers (the computer I am now working on displays the font changes, but that doesn't obscure the text).
The pharmageddon herbal is available from http://www.herbdatanz.comTOP
HOW GM CROPS DESTROY THE THIRD WORLD
(Case studies from Argentina, Indonesia and India) An excellent roundup by Lim Li Ching of GM crops' dismal performance in the above countries, given as an Independent Science Panel briefing at the House of Commons, is at
GERMANY: CROP SITES STAY SECRET
Political and public pressure is increasing on researchers in Germany to reveal the locations of 30 fields sown with corn seeds that have been genetically modified to resist corn borer. The study involves seed companies Monsanto, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, and the German-based firm KWS SAAT.
Thus far, research coordinators, seed companies, and participating farmers have resisted the ever-increasing pressure, saying that field locations in seven German states must be kept secret to protect them from damage by anti-GM activists, a fate that has befallen other German GM crop sites recently.
US: PHARM CROPS INCREASING
There's more of them and nobody knows where they are. Welcome to the regulation of potent pharmaceuticals in food crops, US-style.
Excerpts from a terrifying article:
The USDA has approved slightly more than 300 biopharming plantings throughout the country since 1995
The number of federal regulatory approvals and applications of these outdoor plantings -- often called "biopharming" -- have nearly doubled in the last 12 months, compared to the previous year.
Most applications... don't specify how many acres are to be cultivated and exactly where the pharmaceutical crops are to be grown, making it impossible for nervous conventional farmers to know whether biotech varieties that could cross-pollinate with their harvest are growing nearby.
PHARM CROP PRODUCTS GROWN AND MARKETED IN US
Prof. Joe Cummins has revealed that dangerous GM pharmaceutical crops have been produced and marketed in the US for at least two years, unbeknownst to the public, via a gaping loophole in the regulatory process.
There has been a great deal of public opposition recently to the testing of rice genetically modified to produce the human proteins lysozyme and lactoferrin in the United States. So far, those tests have been stalled.
But Sigma-Aldrich, a US chemical company, has been marketing the biopharmaceutical products trypsin, avidin and beta-glucuronidase (GUS) processed from transgenic maize, for at least two years. Meanwhile, Prodigene Corporation and Sigma-Aldrich are marketing aprotinin (AproliZean) from maize and from a transgenic tobacco.
To see the astonishing photos taken by campaigner Jean Saunders of a GM maize trial showing the appalling agronomic performance (stunted growth and weediness) of the GM crop compared with non-GM maize, you can click on the link at the online version of the article at
Note that yield was NOT measured in the trial!
DEFORESTATION ALTERS REGIONAL CLIMATE IN BRAZIL
Satellite data shows that deforestation in Brazil's Amazon rainforest results in 'subtle but distinct' changes to the regional climate. (Source: Top Story)
ARTEMISININ IS NOW DRUG OF CHOICE, FUND TELLS AFRICA
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has told African nations not to buy cheap, outdated malaria drugs with its grants. (Source: Nature)
CAN 'PLANT PASSPORTS' PUT BIOPROSPECTING BACK ON TRACK?
Rex Dalton describes how new bioprospecting rules could re-energise the hunt for medicines from natural products whilst protecting the interests of countries in which they are found. (Source: Nature)
INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE IN THE SHOPPING BASKET
Malegapuru Makgoba says that the emerging market for a traditional South African vegetable demonstrates that science and indigenous knowledge can combine to contribute to national development. (Source: The Mercury)
MAJOR PRIZES FOR LATIN AMERICAN BIODIVERSITY PROJECTS
The BBVA Foundation has announced that it will award three prizes worth over US$500,000 for projects conserving biodiversity in Latin America.
BRAZIL LAUNCHES DNA BANK FOR ENDANGERED PLANTS
Researchers in Rio de Janeiro have opened a facility to store and preserve the genetic material of Brazil's endangered plant life.