Q&A: How to get omega 3-6-9s?

What oils are best to get our omega 369s? Before I answer your question directly, let's do a little review. When we talk about dietary fats, most of the time we are referring to triglycerides, which are three fatty acids attached to a glycerol backbone. Sometimes the fatty acids are all the same type, but most often there is some natural variation. Fatty acids are made up of carbon chains bonded to together, and due to the unique properties of carbon, leaves a space on the sides of the carbon atoms to accept hydrogen atoms on either side of the chain. A fatty acid carbon chain with all the side spots filled with hydrogen is a saturated fatty acid, whereas if one spot is empty, the fatty acid is unsaturated. If there is only one spot available, then the fatty acid is a monounsaturated fatty acid, and if there is more than one spot open it becomes a polyunsaturated fatty acid. Where there is no hydrogen bond to the a carbon, the two adjacent carbons will form a weak double bond. … [Read more...]

On the Issue of Sunscreens

On the Issue of Sunscreens

For most of us summer is an easy going time where we can cast off the burden of winter, dispense with the winter coats, hats and boots that clog up the mudroom or front hall, walk barefoot in the grass and lie in the shade of the trees, meditating on the shapes of the clouds as they pass by. Yet despite what should be a rather pleasant time, for many years we have been told that summer holds out something rather sinister and almost totally unavoidable. It has become such a problem that government health agencies have instituted warnings and policies, with a rush of companies coming to our aid as responsible corporate citizens. Where it was previously celebrated not just as a symbol but the very essence of fertility, it has now become something to be feared and avoided. Is it some new dangerous drug? Has the mayonnaise gone bad or someone adulterated our favorite brand of potato chips? Nope. Something far more powerful: something that we puny humans have no control over. The … [Read more...]

Sticky Problem at the World Cup

Sticky Problem at the World Cup

It took me awhile to figure it out, but while watching the FIFA World Cup final yesterday, I couldn't help but notice something like the sound of waves rushing up the shore punctuating the commentary of sportscaster John Helm. Falling then rising at some points to become so loud as to compete with the vuvuzelas, I suddenly realized that what I was listening to was the labored inhalations of Mr. Helm himself. And while I enjoyed his descriptive and engaging commentary, the initial image of water rippling across a pebbled beach degenerated into the realization that rather than bubbling waves I was listening to the sound of wind passing over bubbly mucus. So that despite the flashes of brilliance in the Spanish offence, I was constantly reminded of the state of Mr. Helm's nostrils, and couldn't help but thinking that his struggled breathing served as a metaphor for the rather congested play of the game.  I became obsessed with thinking of reasons why Mr. Helm had such a difficult time g … [Read more...]

Gut Bacteria Could Be Key Indicator of Colon Cancer Risk

Gut Bacteria Could Be Key Indicator of Colon Cancer Risk

In a paper published by the University of North Carolina the authors suggest that the balance of healthy versus pathogenic bacteria in our gut is an important element in the development of colon cancer. This is only the latest in a continual stream of research over the past decade showing the importance of a healthy gut flora. But the benefit doesn't extend to just the bowel. A quick survey on the database of the National Institute of Medicine will quickly show that these probiotic organisms are not only good for the gut, but are equally important in the proper health of the immune and nervous systems. For me this is only the tip of the iceberg in what will eventually be a melting flood of science demonstrating that the key role to our survival as a species is to work with the natural world, rather than oppose it. This means that the notion that we are somehow separate or different from the environment will be seen for the elaborate charade that it is. Suddenly everything that we u … [Read more...]

Q&A: What is Triphala?

Triphala is commonly available as a churna, a finely sieved powder that can be mixed with water, ghee (clarified butter) or honey, but can also be encapsulated for sensitive palettes.  There are many methods of preparing Triphala however, including medicated oils, decoctions, confections, and natural fermentations (asava/arishta).  TAM designates Triphala as a rasayana, a Sanskrit term given to those medicaments that improve general health and prolong life.  For this purpose it is traditionally prescribed for up to a year in doses of 1 – 2  grams taken twice daily, and may even be taken throughout one’s life on a semi-regular basis to cleanse the tissues, strengthen digestion, and sharpen the senses.  Care must be taken when purchasing Triphala to ensure that the product is fresh, as churnas (powders) are traditionally said to have a shelf life of no more than six months. Classical Uses for Triphala Triphala is revered among the many other rasayanas for its reliable and balanced activ … [Read more...]