Shilajit: a remedy for all times

Shilajit: a remedy for all times

One of the emerging health food trends to hit the Western world is the consumption of Shilajit, a curious resin found exuding from the steep rock faces of certain mountains in the Himalayas. It is one of the more unique remedies utilized in traditional medicine, and for practitioners of the ancient system of medicine called Ayurveda, among the most valuable as well. It is a relatively rare substance, found only when the hot summer sun beats down upon the mountains, causing the resin to liquefy and exude from cracks in the rocks. Similar exudates are also found in other mountain ranges, including the mumiyo harvested from the Altai Mountains in Siberia, but these are not necessarily the same thing as Shilajit.   What is Shilajit? As the older scientific names of 'bitumen' and 'ashphaltum' suggest, Shilajit was once thought to be some sort of fossilized organic material. It was believed to be derived from decaying organic materials that built up along the coastline of a … [Read more...]

The graduated diet

The graduated diet

The ‘graduated diet’, or sansarjana krama in Sanskrit, is a measure utilized in Ayurveda to rekindle the digestive fire (agni). It is used for the purpose of amapachana: to enhance digestion and the processing of wastes, and remove the metabolic and immunological detritus (ama) that is generated with poor digestion. The graduated diet can be utilized in a variety of situations, including whenever digestion is weak and in the treatment of diseases such as fever (jwara). The process of ‘rekindling’ the digestive fire (agni) is analogous to starting a fire in a wood stove, enkindling the agni with easily digestible foods as one would a fire with paper or kindling. Once the fire is established, in the form of a strong appetite, progressively denser and more energy-rich foods are introduced in a graduated fashion to feed the digestive fire, but never so much as to cause it to smolder or be extinguished. How much to eat? The graduated diet isn’t designed to provide a maximal source of … [Read more...]

New semester begins October 5th!

New semester begins October 5th!

Our next semester begins October 5th, 2016. Please click on the image below to see our calendar, and links to specific classes of interest. Don't forget to join Todd Caldecott for his upcoming two-part lecture with the American Herbalists Guild, Oct 12 and 19th. For more details, please visit the American Herbalists Guild. … [Read more...]

Hillary, Hashimoto’s and DVT

Hillary, Hashimoto’s and DVT

This week while browsing the news sites, I came across Dr. David Andrew Pinsky, more commonly known as TV personality "Dr. Drew", commenting on the health record of Hillary Clinton. A few weeks ago, the New York Times published a letter written by Former Secretary Clinton’s medical doctor, providing an assessment of her physical condition. According to Dr. Pinsky, when he reviewed this letter with a colleague, both of them "concluded that if we were providing the care that she was receiving, we’d be ashamed to show up in a doctor’s lounge,” adding that Mrs. Clinton is receiving a "1950-level” of health care. While the ethics of making public comment about someone’s health issues based on second-hand information are normally problematic, it is nonetheless true that Former Secretary Clinton is applying for a very public and important position, and the issues related to her health care are a legitimate matter for public debate and discussion. Intrigued by what Dr. Pinsky said, I decided … [Read more...]

Migraines, magnesium, & brown rice

Migraines, magnesium, & brown rice

Soon after I published Food As Medicine in 2011, I received an email from a reader, who wrote about her experience with migraines and magnesium. A long-time lacto-ovo vegetarian, she told me that she took supplemental magnesium each month to control her premenstrual migraines, and that it was the only thing that worked for her. To be sure, it's been known for years that magnesium can be helpful in the prevention of premenstrual migraines. Several studies have shown that low serum magnesium is an independent risk factor for migraine headaches, and that magnesium can be used therapeutically to both prevent and treat migraines, as well as a host of other disorders characterized by spasm. She couldn't understand why she might be magnesium-deficient, however, because she ate a lot of brown rice, and had been told that brown rice was high in magnesium. According to nutritiondata.com, rice indeed tops the list of all magnesium-containing foods, at 781 mg per 100 mg. Although this refers … [Read more...]