Monday, May 25, 2009

Aging Gracefully

I just celebrated a birthday, and having reached this...ahem... particular phase in life, I find myself paying more attention to the way people show their age. Especially in their faces; one’s face is often the first impression they give about themselves, and that first impression can say a lot. As a culture, we equate youth with “beauty”, and unfortunately many people choose go to great lengths and costs to retain an illusion of youthfulness and often end up distorting their faces into something much worse than the natural “merit badges” we grow from a life fully lived.

So, where does your face show age? Most of us experience a drop in our cheeks, as elastin in our faces loses tensile strength, the infamous crow’s feet around the eyes, from years of laughter and smiling, and liver spots or hyper pigmentation accumulated from a lifetime exposed to the sun. Of course, everything starts with lifestyle, and diet is a huge part of lifestyle. A balanced diet rich in organic vegetables, whole grains, and meats provide you with antioxidants, essential fats, collagen and minerals to retain a lifelong healthy glow. Exercise is also very important, mainly to reduce stress (which will age you an alarming rate in many ways) but when you sweat it moves toxins out of your skin.

A proper daily facial care ritual will go a long way: frequent exfoliation, daily cleansing, toning and moisture are the building blocks of aging gracefully. Moisture is critical for skin of any age and lately I’ve come to believe that most of one’s dietary fats should really be applied topically. I’m talking about olive oil, nut oils like almond oil and coconut oil, as rubbing fish oil all over oneself just plain sounds gross. Those oils are also mildly sun protectant, as most have a natural SPF of about 4. Proper Suncare is also a big part of aging gracefully, and through trial and error I have come to the conclusion that sunscreen of any SPF needs to be reapplied every couple of hours (at least) during prime sun exposure. I really like Hara, Burn Out and Mychelle sunscreens for their sun protection and moisturizing efficiency. Mychelle also came out with an entire Apple Facial Care Line specifically formulated for overexposed skin.

To firm up areas that may start to drift earthward, seaweed is the best. Zia has Seaweed Lift Serum, an intensive blend of organic apple juice, sea algae extracts and CoQ10 that softens, hydrates and detoxifies skin while improving elasticity. One of my favorite lines, Grateful Body, recently reformulated and came out with two new zingers; Sea Cell Serum feeds, purifies and firms your skin with a blend of sea vegetables, rosehip seed oil, Yerba Mansa and much more. And Supernatural Antioxidant, rich in Pine bark antioxidants, a South American herb called Picao Preto, to reduce cellular inflammation and a blend of medicinal mushrooms to nourish the skin. Zia and Mychelle and Avalon all have fabulous Vitamin C serums, which promote elastin and collagen production, and provide protective antioxidants. I suggest applying a seaweed serum to suspect sag spots like the cheeks and outer eye area under a moisturizer during the day, and a Vitamin C or antioxidant serum all over the face (again under moisturizer) at night.

The Way to a Woman's Heart.....

The way to a woman’s heart is through her feet

My fondest memory about my Grandparents’ loving and enduring relationship is how every evening my Grandfather would devotedly rub a rich lotion on my Grandmother’s feet….

The human foot is at once the most functional and the most tortured part of the anatomy…and the hardest to draw! One of my art teachers used a human foot as a final exam once… The complex skeletal structure of the foot can be compared to the inner workings of a Swiss watch; capable of propelling the body in any direction at high speed while sustaining huge amounts of force. As such, the foot is exposed to constant physical stresses, some of which are exacerbated by footwear and weather. My Grandmother’s poor toes came to a central point due to decades of patent leather pumps!

Including the bones of the ankle, the foot holds 26 separate bones, many of which are relatively small and delicately fashioned. Over 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments combine with the skeletal bones to create 33 separate joints. A complex series of blood vessels and nerve pathways run within individual networks to support the cardiovascular and neurological demands of movement. The sophistication of the skeletal structure of the foot is underscored by the fact that the bones of the two human feet constitute almost 25% of all bones in the human body.

Not only is the foot a complex if underappreciated machine, but Scientists at the Canada Research Council discovered that by rubbing a substance on your feet the body quickly absorbs and utilizes it. Try rubbing raw garlic on the bottom of your foot; you’ll taste it in 20 minutes! This is why I hate crocs; they are polyurethane foam that’s off-gassing into your feet! What comes in also goes out; this is the theory behind foot Detox patches: based on Reflexology Points, the tourmaline and herbs in the patch stimulate circulation in the blood vessels of the foot, and encourage the natural detoxifying processes of your organs.

But as a culture, we primarily ignore our poor footsies, taking their magnificence for granted. You can start being a foot worshipper by using a pumice stone in the shower to exfoliate dead skin and prevent callus build up. Follow with a nice rich lotion or foot cream, I really like Collective Well Being’s Cardamom Foot Butter, it’s rich, moisturizing and smells delicious. If, like so many people, you work on your feet all day, try EO’s Revitalizing Lotion for Legs and Feet; fragrant essential oils of French Lavender, Peppermint and Citrus are combined with stimulating menthol to increase circulation and provide soothing relief. There are also a wide variety of massage tools available for soothing sore, achy feet.

The best treatment for Athlete’s Foot I have ever seen is Fungal Rx by Grateful Body. With am and pm formulas and an ingenious applicator, I have witnesses it bring many folk much needed relief over the years.

Create loving traditions in your family, and rub someone the right way.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Quote for the day

Quote for the Day:
"Bitch is simply a matter of perspective."

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Solara goes to the Big Easy!

A Mardi Gras performer bought one of my masks and wore it to the big show!


To see more go to

Monday, February 23, 2009

Just more proof that the Universe is Fractal

It is often joked that human beings are the only machines that don’t come with an instruction manual, but we have approximately 25,000 instruction manuals for every system in our body; they’re called genes. Genes are the blueprints for building and operating every nuance and function inside these masses of plasma and bones we live in. They determine everything from eye and hair color to cellular metabolism and how your immune system reacts to carcinogens. These are hereditary traits, passed down through the history of human kind. However, while genes play a role in determining things like a person's height; the environment, nutrition and health that person experiences in childhood also have a large effect.

And that’s what we call Evolution. For the life of this planet (that we know of) the environment of has directly affected the organisms on it and vice versa. And the environment we’ve created over the last several hundred years of human history is radically affecting everything. It is undeniable that the prevalence of coal based industry, nuclear energy, chemical use, and even a diet of highly processed foods is changing us. And I don’t think we’re going to like what we’re changing into. The most common diseases in the world like diabetes and heart disease are both genetic and dietary; as generation after generation of humans are exposed to varying toxic chemicals, and consume processed and low nutrient foods, the genes of their offspring change, go dormant or shut down entirely over time. The way we are headed now will have us all evolving into Jabba the Hutt!
As science is giving us more understanding of our genes, the study of how nutrition affects our genes is growing with it. It is my pleasure to introduce Nutrigenomics to you; in Nutrigenomics, nutrients are seen as
signals that tell a specific cell in the body about the diet. The nutrients are detected by a sensor system in the cell, and depending on the level of nutrients it detects, it changes gene expression and metabolite production. As a result, different diets should elicit different patterns of gene expression and metabolite production. Nutrigenomics seeks to describe the patterns of these effects, and help create diets for individual needs.
This is a relatively new science and still in early forms of development, but here’s something we do know; the best thing you can do to keep your genes awake, alert and ready for action is to (you guessed it!) eat a diverse diet rich in organic fruits and vegetables, whole organic grains, and well raised, untreated meats and seafood (in that order).
Even here in Santa Cruz, where our health and diets are a high priority, it’s never a bad idea to supplement your diet with any one of a variety of tasty, nutrient dense green drinks such as New Chapter’s Berry Greens, Healthforce Nutritional’s Vitamineral Greens, Garden of Life’s Perfect Food, and the newly released Nutrigenomics Powder by Eclectic Institute which contains rich red fruits like black raspberry, Aronia and Acai.
There are evolutional factors that we can’t control, but our diet and lifestyle are things we can, for our lives and the lives of generations of people to come.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My personal view on Vaccinations

I just read an article about how vaccines are perfectly safe, don't cause autism, and everybody should go get their kid shot up quick like.
While I never believed that vaccines cause autism, I still don't think we go about it the right way. I totally get the point of vaccines: give the baby's immune system a taste of the virus so it will make anitbodies and (hopefully) fight off the virus later in life. But, it takes approximately 6 months for a brand new immune system to get fully functional, so why would you shoot a complex virus into that fledgling immune system so early? Most places won't let a newborn go home until it's had at least one shot. And then that is followed by several more, and a flu shot over the next few months. To me, this is like taking that 6 month old child and expecting him/her to do calculus! There is training involved (to do anything well), so I say again, why give a brand spanking new immune system the chemical equivalent of long division? It doesn't make any sense.

When I do become a Mom, which I hope will be very soon, I plan to do all I can with my diet to strengthen my baby's immune system. By getting lots of probiotics (which make up approximately 80% of your immune system) from foods like sauerkraut, miso and a probiotic supplement like Bio-K+, and opting for Homeopathic vaccines. For those of you not familiar, Homeopathy is a form of medicine where subtances are hyper diluted to give the body a "blueprint" to use to treat symptoms and (in this case) give the body a simpler "blueprint" than a chemical vaccine to use to make antibodies. Not to mention that chemical vaccines have heavy metal preservatives and stabilizers and all manner of other crud solely to keep them from going bad while stored over time. Homeopathy has none of that a no side effects. But, although they are approved by the FDA, the general public has no idea they exist nor access to them. If you want to check out homeopathic vaccines, find a Homeopathic Practitioner near you.

This comes from two of my life experiences: first, I had chicken pox as a baby, after I had been vaccinated for it, and then I got it again, from children I was nannying when I was 24. Their mother, who was a nurse, swore up and down it was absolutely impossible, yet there I was, covered in scabs and feverish. Second, my cat Zydeco was killed when the vet gave him too much feline leukemia vaccine, he died painfully, within a few months of the shot. So, you can see why my faith in vaccines is shaky at best.
All I can say is do your own research, ask questions and follow your heart.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Nutrition for Sprains, Strains and Surgery Recovery

I am a mangled person. I've made a mess of my poor body by "doing all of my own stunts" throughout my life. When I was at Bauman College, I wrote my thesis on Connective Tissue Recovery, and put it into practice when I had knee surgery. Using this protocol I recovered in half the time I was supposed to. And since so many people find themselves bandaged up, in a cast or facing surgery, I am posting the nitty gritty here for the benefit of any who need it.

When you are injured, your body goes into emergency mode, swelling occurs to allow fluid to move to and from the area carting in white blood cells to the injury to clear out any infection, and fibrin to keep you "glued" together while your body attempts to repair itself, and circulating dead white blood cells and excess fibrin out. This is a delicate balance, to keep it moving take Bromelain; A gelatin dissolving enzyme from pineapple stem. It will digest dead tissue, and make way for fresh healthy tissue. Scar tissue slows healing and inhibits range of movement, not to mention that it is not very strong and won't support you. Just like the doctors say to stay ahead of the pain, stay ahead of the scarring. Balance is the name of the game. Jarrow Bromelain is a good one, high dose. TAKE ON AN EMPTY STOMACH.

I also really like Ola Loa Repair, an effervescent multi vitamin targeted at joint repair. I have a great story for this one; my friend was surfing, and nearly pulled his shoulder right out of the joint. When he saw an OS the Doctor was amazed that the shoulder didn’t pop, it stretched. It was strained and hurt like hell, but healed quickly. You can mix with water and drink. It has electrolytes to maintain fluid balance, bromelain, glucosamine and chondroitin (building blocks of connective tissue) to help you rebuild yourself.

But my favorite remedy for soft tissue damage is Homemade Chicken Soup, seriously, this is why Chicken soup is good for everything!
Roast a chicken and remove all of the meat from the carcass, simmer the carcass overnight with carrots, celery, lots of onions, peppercorns and herbs of your choice. Strain off the fat, discard the solids and voila! This will leech all the good collagen and marrow out of the bones of the chicken (you can also use other kinds of bones, ask your local butcher). Add garlic, onions (both of which have high quantities of sulphur) celery, seaweed, carrots, kale (or any leafy green veggie), will provide minerals which combined with protein make your connective tissue. You can also add mushrooms like reishi and maitake, to bolster your immune system. You can add fresh veggies and the chicken meat back to the broth and eat the soup or use this broth as a base for Miso. It is said that after Hiroshima the people whose diet consisted mostly of Miso, healed rapidly from the radiation. I had a cup a day, during my recovery and am convinced this was the magic bullet.

Also check out Arnica Montana; Homeopathic 200c, begin using as soon as possible, (best started 3 days before surgery). Dissolve a few tablets in your mouth when it’s empty, 3x a day, for as long as you need it. It will help with swelling, pain and healing.
Other possibilities: Mycomend by New Chapter, medicinal mushrooms recycle that which is dead while supporting that which is living, they provide vegetarian sources of Glucosamine and Chondroitin and can help you make good, strong connective tissue. Gaia Herbs just came out with Joint Health, a very cool formula that manages pain while talking the body into creating its own Glucosamine etc.

Topically, my favorite is Elixer Rub by Frush Botanicals, she uses arnica essential oil instead of homeopathic arnica, which relieves pain and bruising almost instantly. I also like MSM Crème/capsule by MRM; MSM is a natural sulphur that will “burn off” dead tissue while making way and helping build new, strong, healthy tissue. The crème is for pain relief (I love it) and the caps will work internally. MSM is particularly good for old injuries.

For external scarring try the MSM creme and St John's Wort oil; usually for burns, St John's Wort repairs and stimulates nerve endings, which also get damaged when you hurt yourself. I experienced some numbness around the incision after my knee surgery, which I was told could take up to two years to go away, so a combination of St John's Wort oil, it's homeopathic counterpart Hypericum Perforatum, and Acupuncture and within a few months the numbness was gone.

If you have had connective tissue surgery-KEEP ON YOUR PHYSICAL THERAPY. Make it your religion, believe me, it pays off. And most importantly, you are not alone. I found a great website/chat spot for folks who had had the same surgery called "Bob's ACL Board"and they were more helpful, supportive and informative than the doctor.
DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH! The information is out there, the more you know, the better equipped you will be.
Good Luck and feel free to ask me any questions in the comments.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My Latest Project

With all of the recent controversy over safe ingredients in body care, New Leaf has decided to implement a Red, Yellow, and Green system similar to our Sustainable Seafood program to inform customers of the safety of their favorite body care products.

Why don’t we just get rid of all of the bad products? That wouldn’t stop people from buying them elsewhere, this way we get to educate and not alienate. For years the Bloom staff at New Leaf has been reprimanding companies for their unsavory ingredients, but as long as the customers keep buying them, those companies see no need to listen to us, but they will listen to the people who want to buy their products, but may choose not to once they learn about some of the ingredients in them.

So, what’s so bad about some of these ingredients? Synthetic fragrances and colors have been linked to hormone disruption, ingredients derived from petrochemicals can be carcinogenic, and heavy metals in cosmetics can suppress immune function, the list goes on and on. And we’re not just thinking about your body, we’re thinking of this celestial body we live on; the body care industry is one of the world’s largest polluters and by far the least policed. Chemicals used in mass market shampoos have been found in polar bear fat, and arctic core samples. It goes down the drain, and out into the ocean. We live on a self contained orb; our refuse does not simply “go away”.

These companies all keep making products to satisfy the populace; people love foamy shampoo and toothpaste; they love smelly lotions and high SPF sunblocks, not knowing that the ingredients that make the foam, the fragrance and the high SPF can be potentially dangerous to their health and the health of our planet. We try to offer the best products we can find, but our customers keep asking us for products we know to be risky. So, here is where we get the chance to do some educating.

We’ve chosen to follow a rating system set by the Environmental Working Group on their website, Skin Deep ( which has gathered information on thousands of chemicals present in bodycare and cosmetics and matched them with hazard data from over 50 toxicity and regulatory databases. From there they created a red, yellow and green rating system based on the amount of hazardous ingredients present in each product. Luckily, there are only a handful of products that can be considered “red” at New Leaf, like certain sunblocks, but together; we can send a message to the bodycare companies that we are mad as heck and not going to take it anymore.

Ask your friendly neighborhood Bloom employee to show you the companies that are walking their talk, making great products ethically and without chemicals like Wyndmere, Sensuous Beauty, Isvara, Weleda, Grateful Body and John Masters. And those larger companies that have reacted to the trend and started to clean up their acts, like Zia, Jason and Alba Botanica. Beautiful skin shouldn’t be won at the cost of anyone’s health or the health of our planet.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

This is how I feel today:
Quote for the Day:
"95% of everything that has ever lived is extinct, so don't look so damn smug."